Naomi Osaka In Tears During First Press Conference Since French Open - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka In Tears During First Press Conference Since French Open

The agent of the tennis star has accused a journalist of ‘bullying’ following the incident.

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Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was in tears during her press conference at the Western and Southern Open on Monday after being questioned about her relationship with the media.

 

The world No.2 was conducting her first press conference since the French Open after taking a break from the sport due to her mental health. Osaka returned to play at the Tokyo Olympics but athletes at the Games are not expected to fulfil such media commitments. It was in Paris where the Japanese tennis player revealed that she has been suffering from depression and social anxiety in recent months.

Speaking to reporters via zoom in Cincinnati, Osaka spoke freely and honestly about a variety of issues such as the warm reception she received at the Olympics from fellow athletes after she spoke openly about her mental health. However, she started to struggle when a question was asked by one reporter from a local media outlet. They asked Osaka how she copes with finding a balance between using social media to aid her various interests whilst trying to maintain her mental health.

“You’re not crazy about dealing with us (the media), especially in this format (press conferences). Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform. I guess my question is: How do you balance the two?” The reporter asked.

The decision to ask such a question has stirred a debate about if it was the right move considering what has happened to Osaka in recent times. Nevertheless, she engaged with the journalist and responded.

“That’s interesting. I would say the occasion like when to do the press conference is what I feel is the most difficult, but… Hmm. Sorry. I’m thinking. Um..” She replied.

At this stage, the moderator stepped in to intervene by asking the tennis star if she would like to move on to the next question. However, Osaka declined because she was ‘interested in the point of view.’

Ever since I was younger, I have had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play,” she explains.
“Because in the first place, I’m a tennis player. That’s why a lot of people are interested in me. So I would say in that regard I’m quite different to a lot of people, and I can’t really help that there are some things that I tweet or some things that I say that kind of create a lot of news articles or things like that, and I know it’s because I have won a couple of Grand Slams and I have gotten to do a lot of press conferences that these things happen.’
“But I would also say I’m not really sure how to balance the two. Like I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.”

It was clear to see on Osaka’s face how difficult it was to address such a question as she began to cry during the press conference. Resulting in a halt to proceedings before she returned to answer more questions.

Following the incident, Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid slammed the journalist for what he described as ‘bullying.’

The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behaviour,” he said in a statement issued to New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg.
“And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off court success to the media is a myth – don’t be so self-indulgent.”

Osaka is the second seed at this week’s Western and Southern Open. She has pledged to donate all the prize money she earns to victims of the Haitian earthquake which has killed more than 1000 people.

Full transcript of Osaka’s Q&A with the journalist

JOURNALIST: You’re not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format. Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform. I guess my question is: How do you balance the two? And also, do you have anything you’d like to share with us about what you did say to Simone Biles?

NAOMI OSAKA: When you say I’m not crazy about dealing with you guys, what does that refer to?

JOURNALIST: Well, you have said you don’t especially like the press conference format. Yet that seems to be obviously the most widely used means of communicating to the media and through the media to the public.

NAOMI OSAKA: Hmm. That’s interesting. I would say the occasion like when to do the press conference is what I feel is the most difficult, but… Hmm.
Sorry. I’m thinking. Um…

THE MODERATOR: I think we can move on to the next question, Naomi? Do you want to move on to the next question?

NAOMI OSAKA: No, actually I’m very interested in, like, that point of view. So if you could repeat that, that would be awesome.

JOURNALIST: The question was that you’re not especially fond of dealing with the media, especially in this format. You have suggested there are better ways to do it, that we’d like to try to explore that. My question, I guess, was you also have outside interests beyond tennis that
are served by having the platform that the media presents to you. My question is: How do you think you might be able to best balance the two?

NAOMI OSAKA: Um, I mean, for me, I feel like this is something that I can’t — I can’t really speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I have had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as, you know, how I
play. Because in the first place, I’m a tennis player. That’s why a lot of people are interested in me. So I would say in that regard I’m quite different to a lot of people, and I can’t really help that there are some things that I tweet or some things that I say that kind of create a
lot of news articles or things like that, and I know it’s because I have won a couple of Grand Slams and I have gotten to do a lot of press conferences that these things happen. But I would also say, like, I’m not really sure how to balance the two. Like I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.

Following Osaka’s reply, another reporter began to ask their question but during the process, she began to cry. The press conference was then halted.

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Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares to reach the quarter final in the Australian Open doubles tournament

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This year’s Sydney Tennis Classic finalists Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini knocked out Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 to reach the quarter finals in the quarter finals at the Australian Open. 

 

The Italian doubles team, who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2015, wasted three break points in the 10-minute opening game. Murray and Soares earned two breaks in the second and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Bolelli and Fognini saved three break points and pulled back one of the two breaks in the seventh game for 2-5, but Murray and Soares closed out the first set 6-3 on their sixth set point.   

Both players went on serve in the second set en route to the tie-break. Fognini and Bolelli saved a match point before closing out the tie-break on their second set point with a backhand winner. 

Bolelli and Fognini saved a break point in the second game of the third set before breaking twice in the seventh and ninth games to seal the win. The Italian team backed up their second-round win over second seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. 

The Italians set up a quarter final match against last year’s Australian Open finalists Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. 

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis overcame Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the third round. The Aussie team had beaten Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 on Kia Arena. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis earned their first break in the ninth game to take the first set 6-4. Behar and Escobar broke in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Kokkinaks and Kyrgios broke straight back in the seventh game before holding serve to draw level to 4-4. Behar and Escobar sealed the second set 6-4 with their second break in the 10th game.

The home team broke in the fifth game and sealed the third set on the first match point. 

“The way Kokkinakis is playing right now, he is obviously very confident after the last month, which is amazing to see. I feel like we are locked in, it’s probably the best doubles we have played together. Another win at the Australian Open, you are not going to take that for granted. I definitely think that we have got a good shot at winning this”, said Kyrgios. 

US Open semifinalists John Peers and Filip Polasek cruised past Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 6-1 6-2. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos won 85% of their first serve points in their 7-5 7-5 win over Pablo Andujar and Pedro Martinez with a break in each set.

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Madison Keys reaches the quarter finals at the Australian Open for the third time

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Madison Keys cruised into the third quarter final of her career at the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-1 win over last year’s Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa after 69 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. 

 

Keys advanced to her eighth career quarter final at Grand Slam level, the first at the Australian Open since 2018 and the first Grand Slam quarter final since the 2019 French Open. 

Keys, who had just recorded 3 of her 19 previous wins over top 10 players at Grand Slam level, dropped just five points on serve and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set. 

Keys converted her second break point and held her service game to open up a 3-0 lead. Badosa fended off a total of five break points in the fourth and sixth games of the first set. Keys held her final three service games easily to close the first set 6-3. 

Both players traded breaks in two multi-deuce games before Keys won the next five games with three breaks of serve to close out the second set 6-1. 

Keys has extended her record this year to ten wins in her eleven matches played in 2022.  

“I am really happy with how I played today. I think I served a lot better than I did in the last match. I think I returned well. I had a lot of opportunities to try to move forward. I think just my mindset really let me play play that good tennis. That’s really what I have been trying to focus on, just giving myself the opportunity to allow myself to play tennis like I did today. I think it obviously gets harder just because you get tighter and it’s bigger moments. Even in the finals in Adelaide, I started incredibly nervous and I felt that. Just acknowledging it, accepting it, not trying to fight it and pretend that it’s not happening has been probably the best thing that I have done”, said Keys. 

Keys set up a quarter final against last year’s Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, who beat two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2. Keys praised Krejcikova during the post match interview. 

“I think Barbora is making tennis look easy. It seems like no matter what people are doing. She quickly figures it out and has another game plan to quickly implement. I think the other thing about her is that she is also an incredible doubles player. She moves forward so naturally that I feel like if you give her the opportunity, she is just on top of you all of a sudden, then she is at the net. Obviously, it’s not easy to pass her.  An incredibly difficult match-up”, said Keys. 

Keys said that she has changed her approach to tennis and this has helped her to come back this year. The US player won the Adelaide 2 title beating Alison Riske in the final.  

“My biggest mindset change is just trying to enjoy tennis, take some of that internal pressure that I was putting on myself. It was freezing me. I felt like I could not play at all. Just taking that away and putting tennis into perspective: that it’s a sport, something that when I was little, I enjoyed doing and loved doing it. I was letting it become this dark cloud over me. Just trying to push all of that away and leave that  behind last year and start fresh this year”.  

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Marin Cilic takes down Andrey Rublev to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open

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Marin Cilic upset world number 6 Andrey Rublev 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 37 minutes to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Cilic went into the match with just one win in his previous 15 matches against top 10 players and had lost his previous four head-to-head matches against Rublev. 

The Croatian player recorded just his second top 10 win since 2018. That year he reached his first final at the Australian Open finishing runner-up to Roger Federer. 

Cilic earned the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Rublev pulled back on serve in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Cilic earned his second break in the 12th game. 

The second set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Cilic got two mini-breaks to take a 5-2 lead. Rublev pulled one break back for 3-5, but Cilc fired down a powerful serve to earn a set point and sealed the tie-break 7-3. 

Rublev saved three break points to hold serve in the first game of the third set. Cilic broke serve in the third game and held serve to take a 3-1 lead. Rublev came back by winning five consecutive game with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games to take the third set 6-3. 

Cilic earned a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. The Croatian player converted it to open up a 3-1 lead and held serve with his 20th ace. 

Cilic brought up two match points in the ninth game with a slice and sealed the win with an ace down the middle. 

Cilic was strong on serve and fired 24 aces, as he won 85% of his first serve points. 

“It’s incredible. I enjoyed every single second of the match. Andrey is an incredible match. We have played several times in the past and it is always difficult. I had so much fun and I played great tennis. The conditions in the evening were a bit cooler and allowed me to go more for my shots and I was really lining up a lot of them, especially the returns, it was really going well for me today. I am feeling excited, I am playing amazing and I am just looking forward to the next match, which gets tougher and tougher with the opponents, but I will try to give it my best”, said Cilic.

Cilic has improved his head-to-head record to 2-4 against Rublev and will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Daniel Evans 6-4 6-1 6-1.

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