By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China
Naomi Osaka had to withdraw from the Shiseido WTA Finals with a shoulder injury
Reflects on a year that saw her win a second Grand Slam title, but exiting the season-ending finale for the second year in a row
SHENZHEN, CHINA – Naomi Osaka pulled out of the second round-robin match in the Red Group with shoulder injury, exiting the finale twice in a row.
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Shoulder injury closes Osaka’s season down
A little over an hour before the day’s play for the second set of round-robin matches was due to start at the Shiseido WTA Finals, Naomi Osaka had to withdraw from the tournament, citing a shoulder injury.
She had edged Petra Kvitova in an Australian Open final rematch from the start of the year, with elements of déjà vu for both players.
What should have been a showdown between two of the year’s No. 1 players ended with a press conference for Osaka, while first alternate Kiki Bertens stepped into the breach, fresh from reaching the semi-finals in Zhuhai in the WTA Elite Trophy.
Osaka admitted this was an injury that had come during her successful Asian swing, seeing her scoop two titles (Osaka and Beijing) before extended her winning streak in the first round-robin match.
She told reporters: Actually, I did this in the finals of Beijing. I didn’t serve for a while when I was in Japan. I just started serving, like, the last two days. Felt better, came here, then I played my match. I don’t know, I felt it immediately. When I woke up the day after, it was like throbbing and stuff. Yeah, didn’t serve at all yesterday. Hit for like five minutes, so…”
Her debut at last year’s tournament was not a happy one. She lost her first two rounds and had lost the first set before retiring from her final round-robin match.
She continued: “It’s not ideal. This is the second time I had to withdraw from the Finals. I mean, the last time I at least played, so a retirement instead of a withdrawal.
“It kind of sucks because I thought I was playing well. I definitely wanted to win here. So yeah, disappointed.”
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After the chaos that surrounded her US Open win, it was a fantastic start to the year to win back to back Slams, beating Kvitova for the title. However, Europe and the clay and grass were a very different story, with Osaka admitting that the pressure of being the World No. 1 had gotten to her.
She was close to tears after her Wimbledon exit, calling short her press conference telling the moderator she thought she was going to cry, and the whole European swing just seemed a tough summer spell.
She explained: “I feel like the year was like a U. Australian Open, amazing. Europe was the bottom part of the U. Not the country, just my season there. Then Asia was the other half of the U.
“I don’t know. For me, I always say when you ask me at the end of the year what I thought was good or bad, my answer is always: I wish I was more consistent throughout the year. That’s kind of what I’m going to say again this time around.”
After taking some time to rest and get an MRI scan when she returns to Japan, it is not too early to set some goals, as she takes a run at defending her second Slam title, when the new season starts in Australia.
“Next season, I’m playing Brisbane. I want to win that. That’s what I would be thinking about. Yeah, honestly, I just want to, like, train really hard. Last year during the off-season I trained really hard for Australia. I felt like going into the slam I was really fit. I just want to try to duplicate that.”
The Shiseido WTA Finals take place between 27 October to 3 November.
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