How Has Japan Reacted To Naomi Osaka’s French Open Withdrawal? - UBITENNIS
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How Has Japan Reacted To Naomi Osaka’s French Open Withdrawal?

Whilst Osaka lives in America, officials back in her native country have spoken out.

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Naomi Osaka training at the 2021 Madrid Open (image by Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

In 2018 Naomi Osaka was ranked as the eighth most popular athlete among female respondents in a survey conducted by Central Research Services in Japan and that was before she won her first major title. Since then her popularity, endorsements and subsequent media spotlight have exploded to the delight of her country.

 

Osaka has sponsorship deals with the likes of Nissan Motor, Shiseido and Yonex. Furthermore, she is one of the faces of the Olympic Games which will be held in Tokyo later this year. She has achieved many firsts for Japanese tennis, including becoming the only person to have reached No.1 in the world.

Following her decision to withdraw from the French Open due to mental health concerns, many in her Japan have rallied around in support of her.

The first thing to be considered is Ms. Osaka’s health. I wish her the earliest possible recovery,” Japan Tennis Association (JTA) Executive Director Toshihisa Tsuchihashi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Things started to unfold for the four-time Grand Slam champion last week when she announced that she would not be conducting any press conferences in Paris. At the time she said her decision was so she would not face any questions which could have made her doubt her performance. Osaka’s announcement made headlines worldwide and infuriated some officials. Causing such a stir that even the Grand Slam Board warned her that she faced potentially being defaulted from the tournament if she continued to not fulfil her commitments. She was fined $15,000 for not conducting her press conference after the first round.

However, the depth of Osaka’s woes wasn’t made public until Tuesday when she confirmed her withdrawal. In a second statement she said for the first time she has been suffering from depression since 2018, as well as social anxiety. Going on to say she will be taking a break from the sport.

Ai Sugiyama is a former star of Japanese tennis who won six WTA titles in singles, as well as rising to world No.1 in the doubles during her career. She hopes the Osaka situation will ‘”make a splash and create an opportunity to talk about athlete’s mental health. ” Even more so in Japan where mental health education will be taught in schools from 2022 for the first time in 40 years.

“There’s a big difference between people’s personalities, and I think we need to consider things on a case-by-case basis,” Japan Today quoted Sugiyama as saying.
“I think the system where you absolutely have to turn up and you’re fined if you don’t is a little out-dated.”

In the world of politics, cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato says he couldn’t imagine the pressure Osaka is currently facing. Sportico previously reported that she made $55M in earnings over a 12-month period which is a new record for a female athlete.

“(Osaka) has said she intends to leave the court for a while, so I would like to keep an eye over her,” asahi.com quoted Kato as telling reporters.

Osaka has made no comment as to when she may return to the Tour.

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Shintaro Mochizuki reaches the qualifying round of qualifying round at Wimbledon

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Japanese Next Gen star Shintaro Mochizuki came back from one set down to beat French Next Gen player Hugo Gaston 1-6 6-2 6-4 reaching the second round of qualifying at Wimbledon. Mochizuki made his return to the grass court of South-West London. 

 

Mochizuki made history at the All England Club in 2019, when he became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam boys’ singles title. The young Asian player is now ranked world number 500 and is making his first professional level appearance at a Grand Slam tournament. 

Mochizuki became the first Japanese player to claim a Grand Slam boys’ singles title when he won the Wimbledon Trophy. 

Mochizuki has been based at the IMG Academy in Bradenton since he was 12. The Japanese player almost chose baseball over tennis before moving from Japan to Florida. His father was a tennis coach and Shintaro started holding a raquet at the age of 1. He considered quitiing tennis at the age of 9 and pursuing baseball instead. His tennis idoli s Roger Federer, who won his first Grand Slam title 34 days after Mochizuki was born. 

“I did not think I was going to get a wild card for qualies this year, because it’s 2021 and I won in 2019. I was really when I heard I got the wild card and I was super excited”, said Mochizuki. 

US Next Gen player Brandon Nakashima cruised past Aleksandar Vukic 6-1 6-1. Vukic pushed Denis Shapovalov to two tie-breaks at last week’s cinch Championships. 

Tomas Machac battled past Tommy Robredo 7-5 4-6 10-8. Machac is currently 10th in the ATP Race to Milan. 

Bernard Tomic rallied from one set down to beat Blaz Kavic Kavic 4-6 6-4 6-3. 

Maxime Cressy edged past Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3). 

Former world number 10 Ernests Gulbis overcame Dmitry Popko 6-3 5-7 6-4.

Viktor Troicki fought past Christopher Eubanks 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-5. 

Zdenek Kolar eased past Martin Klizan 6-1 6-2. Klizan was the final match of his career. 

Roman Safiulin eased past Ivo Karlovic 6-4 6-2. This year’s Buenos Aires finalist Francisco Cerundolo saw off Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves 6-4 6-2. 

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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Dayana Yastremska Cleared Of Wrongdoing Over Failed Drugs Tests

The tennis has star had been provisionally suspended from the Tour since 7 January 2021.

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Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska said she looks forward to ‘returning to her passion’ after getting her doping ban lifted with immediate effect following a hearing.

 

The former world No.21 has been sidelined from the sport with a provisional suspension after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone which is prohibited under category S1 of the 2020 WADA Prohibited List (Anabolic Agents). The positive test came from a sample which was taken on November 24th that Yastremska argued was linked to cross-contamination. She had appealed for her provisional ban to be lifted earlier this year but was denied.

Following her official hearing on May 21st, the Independent Tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has concluded that the tennis star didn’t deliberately take performance enhancing drugs. In their ruling, the panel says they ‘accept’ how the substance managed to get into Yasstremska’s body. She has previously claimed to have ‘scientific evidence’ of cross contamination.

Ms. Yastremska’s provisional suspension is lifted with immediate effect, and she will not serve any period of Ineligibility for her violation. For the avoidance of doubt, Ms. Yastremska is eligible to resume competition immediately.” The ITF stated.

In a statement, Yastremska says she has struggled over the past six months with the negative comments related to her suspension from the sport. Earlier this year she flew to the Australian Open hoping to compete, but wasn’t allowed to under anti-doping rules.

“I’ve been through a lot in the last 6 months and found it difficult to deal with all the negative comments,” she wrote.
“I want to thank my family, my lawyers, my agent and the entire Top Five Management team for their continued and unwavering support. I would also like to thank my fans for the love and messages that I received during this difficult period.’
“Now I look forward to returning to my passion – tennis. It was taken away from me for too long, I can’t wait to get back on tour.”

The 21-year-old has won three WTA Premier titles so far in her career with her most recent triumph occurring at the 2019 Strasbourg Open. Her best run in a Grand Slam was two years ago at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Zhang Shuai of China.

Yastremska is currently ranked 37th in the world. She has not given any details about when or where she plans to return to competitive tennis yet.

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