French Open’s swipe at Osaka
It hasn’t taken long for a veiled swipe at Naomi Osaka by French Open officials.
The world No. 2 posted on her social media accounts that she would not engage with reporters for the entirety of her stay at Roland Garros, citing that “people have no regard for athletes mental health”.
Many of her peers — including Australia’s Ash Barty and the renowned clay court master Rafael Nadal — have offered their respective opinions on Osaka’s stance, but those behind the French Open Twitter account decided to get in on the act.
However, the tweet was quickly deleted.
Naomi Osaka will not be speaking to media at the French Open.
Instead she’ll be receiving sub-tweets from the #Rolandgarros account. (Tweet now deleted.) pic.twitter.com/b83dpyXN1k
Despite Osaka stating that her decision to abstain from media duties was “nothing personal”, it appears that those working within the French Open didn’t exactly see it that way.
There’s a chance that Osaka’s fines for not engaging with the press will total over $US100,000, but having made over $AUD37 million in 2020, the Japanese superstar shouldn’t have a problem with stumping up the cash.
Osaka hasn’t been in the best form leading up to the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Osaka is yet to make it past the third round in Paris, and is coming off a horror straight sets loss to American world No. 28 Jessica Pegula in the second round at the Italian Open.
A first-round match against Romanian Patricia Maria Tig is the initial hurdle for Osaka to clear as she looks to overtake Ash Barty in the WTA rankings.
The 25-year-old Ipswich native returns to the French clay for the first time since her greatest triumph in 2019 and will face American Bernarda Pera in the first round.
She is defending 2000 ranking points at the event and an early loss would open the door for Osaka to return to the top of the list.
The rankings breakdown shows Barty is guaranteed to keep her No. 1 crown if she can make the semi-finals — a rankings score of 720, meaning she would only lose 1280 points from her 10,175 total.
Osaka, who has struggled at Roland Garros in recent years, is only defending 130 ranking points as a result of her third round exit last year.
It means she has potential for a 1870-point boost if she wins the tournament, which would push her total rankings score of 9331.
Osaka has to at least make the final to challenge Barty.
The Japanese superstar controversially elected to avoid all media duties at the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Barty has enjoyed a streak of 72 consecutive weeks as the world No. 1 despite skipping the 2020 tour as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barty vacated her Roland Garros title last year — an event won by Iga Swiatek.
She has won three titles this year and reached the Madrid final, but an arm injury at the Italian Open forced her out of the quarter-finals and cast doubt over her fitness in Paris.
“I think coming back to the site here at Roland Garros is obviously pretty special, pretty cool,” Barty said.
“A lot of it I also don’t remember and feels like it was such a long time ago. It’s certainly a clean slate for us this week.”
— with Tyson Otto
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