Naomi Osaka Risks Exclusion From French Open Over Media Boycott - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Risks Exclusion From French Open Over Media Boycott

An extraordinary statement issued by Jayne Hrdlicka (Tennis Australia), Gilles Moretton (FFT), Ian Hewitt (AELTC/Wimbledon) and Mike McNulty (USTA) has accused the tennis star of not communicating with them.

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Naomi Osaka pictured with Patricia Maria Tig following her R1 match at the French Open (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The first day of the French Open has dropped a major bombshell in the women’s tournament with the Grand Slam Board saying that Naomi Osaka could possibly be excluded from the draw if she continues to not fulfil her media engagements.

 

In a joint-statement issued by the heads of all four Grand Slam tournaments, French Open officials said they ‘tried unsuccessfully’ to contact the world No.2 over her decision to not speak with the media. Last week Osaka issued a statement in which she said she will not be speaking to the press due to ‘mental health concerns.’ Although she did participate in an on-court interview following her first round win on Sunday.

Accusing Osaka of a ‘lack of engagement’ the Grand Slam Board has since written a letter to the tennis star in which they outline her obligations as a tennis player and the consequences of not conducting them.

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct,” the board said.
“The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.”

The quartet of officials says they ‘need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences.’ Seemingly taking a swipe at the four-time Grand Slam champion over her alleged lack of communication.

The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players,” the statement reads.

Even more extraordinary is that officials have publicly stated that should Osaka continue to not fulfil her media commitments she faces further disciplinary action. Including the possibility of being defaulted from the entire tournament. Something which has never happened in the history of the sport. Furthermore, she could also be penalized in the future Grand Slam tournaments. .

“We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).”

The statement ends with each of the four majors saying they are committed to help improve the player experience but only through ‘respectful and constructive’ conversations.

Osaka has made no public comment on the statement.

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Brandon Nakashima continues his winning streak in Tokyo

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Brandon Nakashima continued his winning streak with a 6-3 6-2 win against Shintaro Mochizuki at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

 

“ I am still learning a lot about it, but it’s very exciting. It’s beautiful so far. My father’s side of the family is Japanese. That’s where I get my last name from. Any time I get to learn more about my background I am super excited, so I am happy to be here. The atmosphere is really amazing. I feel right at home”, said Nakashima. 

Nakashima won nine of the final eleven games from 3-3 in the first set. The US Next Gen player did not face a break point and won 84% of his first serve points. He is aiming to qualify for the Next Gen Finals for the second consecutive year. 

“I am serving well. It affects all the other parts of my game. I am happy that I served wel. It was definintely one of my goals at the beginning of the year, to win my first ATP title. To do in my home town was very special”, said Nakashima. 

Nakashima will take on eithTer Borna Coric or Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. 

Frances Tiafoe beat Japanese wild card Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-4. The US 24-year-old player saved both break points and fired eight aces to win seven of his nine past matches. 

Tiafoe, who reached the semifinals at the US Open last September, will face Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who beat Taro Daniel 7-5 7-5. 

Pedro Martinez saw off Pedro Martinez 7-5 6-4 to stop a eight-match losing streak. The Spaniard will face either Casper Ruud or Jaume Munar. 

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Elena Rybakina comes back from one set down to beat Madison Keys in Ostrava

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Wimbledon champions Elena Rybnkina and Petra Kvitova advanced to the Round of 16 at at the Agel Open in Ostrava after three-set battles. 

 

Rybakina came back from one set down to beat Madison Keys 5-7 6-3 6-3 in 2 hours and 14 minutes. The 2022 Wimbledon champion ended a two-match losing streak. 

Keys, who beat Rybakina in their previous head-to-head matches at Roland Garros and Cincinnati earlier this year, went up a set and a break to build up a 7-5 1-0 lead. 

Rybakina earned her first break in the second game of the second set. The Kazakh player broke Keys in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on her next service games to win the second set 6-3. Rybakina took a 3-2 lead with her second break of the third set. Keys saved three match points at 5-3. Rybakina sealed the win on her fourth match point with a forehand winner. 

Petra Kvitova overcame US qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-3 2-6 6-4 in just over two hours. Kvitova hit 35 winners to 21 unforced errors. 

Kvitova raced out to a 5-0 lead with two breaks of serve in the second and fourth games. Pera pulled one break back in the seventh game to reduce her deficit to 3-5. Kvitova saved a break point to hold serve in the ninth game for 6-3. 

Pera earned an early break to take a 2-0 at the start of the second set. Five of the first seven games went against serve. Kritova went up a break at 4-3. Pera fired her first ace to hold serve for 5-4. Kvitova earned two match  points with her 10th ace. She fired her 11th ace to close out the match. 

Kvitova set up a second round match against Paula Badosa. Kvitova and Badosa have drawn level to 1-1 in their two head-to-head matches.  

Ekaterina Alexandrova overcame Victoria Azarenka 6-4 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes to reach the second round. 

Alexandrova has extended her winning streak to six consecutive matches, that includes her recent title in Seoul. 

Alexandrova was ranked outside the top 50 for the first time since 2019, but she came back by reaching two semifinals in Charleston and Madrid. In the past four months she clinched two WTA titles in S’Hertogenbosch and Seoul. She has recorded 29 wins to 10 defeats since April. 

Alexandrova will face either number 5 seed Daria Kasatkina or 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. 

Azarenka earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Alexandrova broke back in the fifth game for 2-3, but Azarenka broke for the second time after a four-deuce battle to take a 4-2 lead, when Alexandrova sent a backhand wide on the seventh break point.

Alexandrova came back by winning four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

A Hawkeye overrule denied Alexandrova a break point at 3-3. Alexandrova held serve before breaking twice in the eighth and tenth games to win the second set 6-4. 

Aleksandrova broke in the third game of the decider after a six- deuce battle with a pass on the third break point. The Russian player sealed the win with a service winner with her second match point. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut beats Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the second round at the Astana Open

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Roberto Bautista Agut upset eight-seed Felix Auger Aliassime 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 55 minutes to reach the second round at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Bautista Agut earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-4. 

Auger Aliassime went up a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut pulled one break back in the fifth game and held on his serve to draw lo draw level to 3-3. Bautista Agut went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Auger Aliassime pulled back on serve both times to draw level to 4-4. Bautista Agut sealed the win on his second match point. 

“It is my first time here. I played great in these conditions. I am very happy to win against a top 10 player. It’s not easy to beat Felix, especially on hard courts. That means I had to playa very good match. I was very solid and and very aggressive. I am very happy”, said Bautista Agut. 

Hubert Hurkacz edged past Francisco Cerundolo 6-2 7-6 (7-2) after 82 minutes in the first round of the Astana Open. 

Hurkacz broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the first set 6-2. The Polish player fired 11 aces and saved the one break point he faced in the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Hurkacz earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The 2021 Miami Open champion set up a second round match against either Alexander Bublik or Tallon Griekspoor.

Hurkacz is currenly ranked ninth in the ATP Race to Turin, just 20 points behind Alexander Zverev, who has been sidelined by an injury. 

Andrey Rublev advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Laslo Djere in 71 minutes. Rublev saved all three break points and broke in the 10th game of the first set and in the 2nd game in the second set. 

Rublev set up a second round match against Chinese qualifier Zhizhen Zhang, who came back from one set down to beat Aslan Karatsev 4-6 6-4 6-1. 

Adrian Mannarino rallied from one set down to beat Stan Wawrinka 1-6 6-2 6-3 to extend his lead to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against his Swiss rival. Botic van de Zandschulp eased past Beibit Zhukzhiev 6-1 6-1. 

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