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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Alexander Zverev Pushed But Manages To Beat Isner As Europe Storms To Lead In Laver Cup

The German gave Team Europe a massive lead after winning a tight match.

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image via https://twitter.com/LaverCup/

Alexander Zverev needed a trademark ” Laver Breaker” to beat the 6ft 10 Amercian John Isner 7-6, 6-7, 10-5 in two hours and 17 minutes on the saecond day of the Laver Cup.

 

The German hit 13 aces in the match, meanwhile Isner went 0 for 3 on breakpoints.

” I think in this format playing John (Isner) is one of the toughest opponents there can be and he is the best server of all time plus he was hitting the ball extremely hard and well today,” said Zverev.
To be honest I played a pretty good match,” he added.

In the first set, both players had zero issues holding serve. In the opening tiebreak it was extremely tight but the world number four managed to get the crucial break at 4-3 and that was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second frame stayed on serve until 3-3 when the American had two chances to break but the Hamburg native managed to save both. In the following game he responded by earning three break points of his very own but Isner saved all three and held serve.

Isner had another chance at 5-5 but was unable to convert and again proceedings went into another tiebreaker to decide the second set. In that breaker, the world number 22 jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the German responded winning the next three points to make it 3-3.

After that, it stayed on serve until 7-6 and it was the American who managed to break Zverev to win the second set and force a match tiebreak to decide the match.

The first four points went on serve and it was the German who got the first break and jumped out to a 6-3 and that lead was enough for him to serve out the match and give Team Europe a 7-1 lead.

After the match in his on-court interview, Zverev spoke about the second set and the level both he and Isner was playing at.

” Even the second set that I lost I didn’t do many things wrong so it shows that the match was very high level and obviously happy to give Team Europe the lead”. He said.

Day 2 results :

In the first match of the day, the Aussie Nick Kyrgios faced Stefanos Tsitsipas and it was the world number three who took the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 26 minutes.

After the match, Krygios mentioned in his post-match press conference that the Laver Cup would be the last event he played in 2021, stating that his mother’s health is not doing well and he is planning to return to Australia to be with her.

In the night session Danil Medvedev, the current US Open champion, took on Denis Shapovalov and the Russian only needed one hour and 15 minutes to beat him 6-4, 6-0 to give Team Europe a 9-1 lead.

In the last match of the day, a doubles clash featuring Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev took on Isner and Krygios, and again it was the Europeans who managed to win 6-7, 6-3, 10-4.

Day 3 Preview :

On Sunday Team Europe will have a chance to clinch the trophy in their first match as they only need two more points and on Sunday a win is worth three. The day will start with a doubles match featuring Rublev and Zverev taking on Shapovalov and Rielly Opelka.

In singles, Zverev will face Felix Auger Aliassime, Medvedev will face Diego Schwartzman, and the last match scheduled is Isner vs Tsitsipas.

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James Duckworth beats Ilya Ivashka to reach the final in Nur Sultan

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James Duckworth has reached his first ATP Tour after his 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win over Ilya Ivashka after 2 hours and 2 minutes at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Duckworth converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3.

Ivashka broke serve in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead. Duckworth broke straight back in the fifth game. Duckworth fended off two set points at 4-5 in the second set.  Ivashka saved two break points. Duckworth got two mini-breaks to earn three match points at 6-3. Ivashka pulled one of the two mini-breaks, but Duckworth sealed the tie-break 7-4 on his second match point. 

“I am really excited. I am thrilled. It was a really tough match. Ilya has been playing some great tennis. We have played twice already this year. Both times went to three sets”, said Duckworth. 

Ivashka won the title in Winston Salem and claimed 11 of his past 12 matches before today’s match against Duckworth. 

Duckworth set up a final against Sonwoo Kwon, who rallied from one set down to beat Alexander Bublik 3-6 7-5 6-3 after two hours and four minutes to advance to his first ATP Tour final. 

Bublik earned the first break of the match in the eighth game to win the first set 6-3. Kwon broke in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Bublik converted his sixth break-back point in the third game to hold serve. Kwon saved a break point in the ninth game before breaking serve in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. Kwon broke serve in the fourth game to win the third set 6-3. 

“It will be a tough match. Kwon is more of a baseliner. I will have to be ready. I am just going to recover the best I can and come out tomorrow and see what happens”, said Duckworth.

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Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari has reached her first WTA Tour final since 2019 after nine consecutive tour-level semifinal defeats, by beating number 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-5 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Sakkari won her only title on the clay court of Rabat. Swiatek had never lost a tour-level semifinal and had a win-loss record of 2-0 in her semifinals played in 2021. The Greek player lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals in Ostrava last year. 

Sakkari has extended her win-loss record to 2-0 in her head-to-head matches against Swiatek. In their only previous match Sakkari beat Swiatek in the French Open quarter final last June ending the Pole’s Roland Garros title defense. 

Sakkari won 77% of her first service points and hit 22 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

Sakkari hit a forehand winner to earn her only break in the opening game of the first set. The Greek player did not face a single break point in the first set. 

Sakkari had to save a break point at the start of the second set before holding serve for 2-2. Sakkari earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Swiatek broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. 

Sakkari converted her third break point with a forehand winner down the line to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Sakkari set up a final against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-4 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. The Estonian player scored her third top 10 win of the year after beating Sofia Kenin in Stuttgart and Bianca Andreescu in Eastbourne. She has reached her fourth final in 2021 after winning her second career title in Cleveland, finishing runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne and sharing the Grampians Trophy with Ann Li after the final was not played due to a scheduling delay. 

Kontaveit hit 18 winners to just 7 unforced errors. Kvitova made 28 unforced errors to 11 winners. Kontaveit broke serve three times to take a bagel win in the first set, as Kvitova made 16 unforced errors to just 2 winners. 

Kvitova won her first game in the opening game of the second set. Kontaveit broke serve at love in the fifth game with a backhand winner to take a 3-2 lead.Kvitova saved a match point to hold serve to hold serve for 5-4 and hit a lob to earn her first break point of the match in the next game, as Kontaveit was serving for the win. Kontaveit saved it and closed out the match by forcing a final eror from Kvitova with a big backhand.  

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