Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


Western & Southern Open: Naomi Osaka reaches semi-finals, to play Elise Mertens

No Justice, No Compete: Naomi Osaka Boycotts Western & Southern Open Semi-Final Over Jacob Blake Shooting Naomi Osaka Drops Out of Semifinal to Protest Police Brutality
Noah Ferguson | 02 September, 2020, 01:16

The world no. 10 won 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, seven minutes shy of the two-hour mark to reach her second semi-final of the season (after the Brisbane International in January).

The 59th-ranked Azarenka collects her first title since 2016 and the 21st of her career, 20th at a hard-court event.

"My service game was tougher than normal.

I just tried to be more positive and pump myself up", she said. "I would have loved to have played, but, you know, I played five really good matches this week, and I think I deserve to be where I am today".

She further wrote- As a black woman, I realized that there are more important issues that need to be addressed immediately than watching me play tennis.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Osaka said Wednesday she wouldn't play in the semi-finals to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman".

"It's definitely a bit eye-opening but in an odd way, because I only previously thought, like, the Big Three and Serena would have that type of power", she said. I'm more of a follower. "I was waiting and waiting and then I realized I was the one who was going to have to take the first step".

However, she changed her mind after the tournament rested on Thursday to protest at the Blake shooting. I want to thank the WTA and the Tournament for their support'.

"But I just hope that all the violence stops immediately, really does, because it's really heartbreaking".

Following Osaka's decision, organizers of the WTA Western & Southern Open have suspended the tournament until Friday.

Fourteenth seed Elise Mertens was to be Osaka's opponent in the penultimate round.

"I'm not sure if it's a light bulb or if there was any particular moment that sparked me to speak up, but I do feel like it's been building for a while", she said.

Although Konta will be disappointed not to be contesting the final, her defeat does at least give her the weekend off ahead of next week's US Open, where she has to be considered one of the contenders for the New York Grand Slam given her form this week - though she faces a tense first-round clash against fellow Briton Heather Watson.

Osaka lifted the US Open trophy in 2018 for her maiden major crown, but she was defeated by Belinda Bencic in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows previous year.

She broke for a 2-0 lead in set two before Mertens rolled through the next four games.

"I haven't felt this way in so, so long - probably ever, to be honest", she said after her 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 semifinal win over Johanna Konta on Friday.

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