Naomi Osaka has been on fire since the return of the WTA Tour. She has won all of the matches she’s played in thus far and is coming off her second career US Open championship.
However, the World No. 3 won’t be able to carry her fine form into the next Grand Slam — the French Open — as she’s decided to pull out due to a hamstring injury. She joins a growing list of top players who won’t be participating in Paris.
While Osaka sits out, some of the other top-ranked men’s and women’s players in the world are still alive in Rome as the Italian Open now heads to the semi-final stage.
With the tennis action coming thick and fast, SBOTOP takes a closer look at all of the top headlines surrounding the sport.
Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu withdraw from French Open
Fresh off her victory at the US Open, Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open due to a hamstring injury.
“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” Osaka wrote on social media. “My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay — these 2 tournaments came too close to each other for me this time. I wish the organizers and players all the best.”
Osaka initially suffered the injury in her semi-final match against Elise Mertens at the Southern and Southern Open last month. She was scheduled to meet Victoria Azarenka in the final but had to withdraw due to the injury.
But even though she was not 100 per cent, Osaka battled through the injury and played four three-set matches on her way to her second career US Open title, where she defeated Azarenka in the final.
World No. 7 Bianca Andreescu has also announced she will not take part in the Grand Slam due to injury. Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, was unable to defend her title in New York as she continues to recover from a knee injury she suffered last October at the WTA Finals in China.
Osaka and Andreescu join World No. 1 and defending French Open champion Ashleigh Barty as the major absentees at Roland Garros. Barty, who also did not take part in the US Open, made WTA 2020 news earlier this month by saying she would not defend her French Open title due to COVID-19 concerns.
With three of the top 10 players in the world not taking part, the WTA 2020 odds of the remaining French Open participants, which include Serena Williams and former French Open winner Simona Halep, figure to be much better.
Top seeds reach Italian Open semi-finals
Speaking of Halep, she has reached the semi-final of the Italian Open as she prepares for Roland Garros.
Halep, who did not take part in the US Open due to COVID-19 concerns, is playing in her first tournament since winning a title in Dubai in February. She has not shown any signs of rust, though; she has yet to drop a single set in the tournament.
Halep will face Garbine Muguruza in the semi-final, which could be a difficult matchup for her. Muguruza is 4-2 in her career against Halep. They last met in the semi-final of this year’s Australian Open, where Muguruza won in straight sets. However, Halep has won both of their meetings on clay.
In the other semi-final, World No. 4 and defending Italian Open champion Karolina Pliskova will meet fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
Pliskova is finally finding some form after a tough hard-court season. She won her third title at the Brisbane International in January, but she has since gone out early in her next five hard-court tournaments, including the round of 64 of the US Open.
On the men’s side, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has also reached the semi-final after a tough three-set match against Dominik Koepfer.
Djokovic, who was shockingly ousted from the US Open after hitting a line judge in the throat during his round-of-16 match, once again lost his cool in the match against Koepfer as he slammed his racket to the ground. But he regained his cool in time to book his ticket to the semi-final, where he will meet a 21-year-old Norwegian, unseeded Casper Ruud.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was unable to follow Djokovic to the semis as he crashed out to Diego Schwartzman in straight sets. The World No. 2 is playing in his first tournament since the tennis restart after he opted not to play in the US Open due to COVID-19 concerns.
But despite his defeat, Nadal will still be one of the big favourites to win the French Open, a Grand Slam he’s won a record 12 times.
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