23 May 2022

Naomi Osaka may skip Wimbledon after tournament stripped of ranking points

23 May 2022

Naomi Osaka is considering snubbing Wimbledon in the wake of the decision to strip the championships of ranking points.

The WTA and the ATP announced on Friday that no points would be on offer at this year’s tournament after Wimbledon chiefs banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing due to the war in Ukraine.

Four-time grand slam winner and former world number one Osaka needs ranking points after slipping to 38 in the world going into the French Open, where she suffered a first-round defeat to Amanda Anisimova on Monday.

The 24-year-old said: “I would say the decision is kind of affecting my mentality going into grass, like I’m not 100 per cent sure if I’m going to go there.

Naomi Osaka felt her Achilles injury in her first-round loss (Christophe Ena/AP) (AP)

“I would love to go just to get some experience on the grass court, but at the same time, for me, it’s kind of like – I don’t want to say pointless, no pun intended – but I’m the type of player that gets motivated by, like, seeing my ranking go up or stuff like that.

“So I think the intention was really good, but the execution is kind of all over the place.

“I’m not sure why, but I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think like something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100 per cent.

I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it's more like an exhibition

“I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances. But, you know, that might change.”

Osaka, who has been struggling with an Achilles injury which limited her match time in the build-up to Roland Garros, was beaten by America’s Anisimova for the second grand slam in a row, 7-5 6-4.

World number one Iga Swiatek, the hot favourite for the women’s title, had little problem dispatching Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko.

The top seed from Poland wrapped up a 6-2 6-0 victory in less than a hour on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Iga Swiatek raced through her first-round match (Thibault Camus/AP) (AP)

Swiatek later revealed she still planned to play at Wimbledon, but called for unity in the sport.

“I have never really had a situation to play without points, and I don’t really know how I’m going to react,” she said.

“But I think when I’m going to step out on court it’s going to be normal for me, because I don’t mind points. I already have so many points this season that it’s really, it’s going to be fine for me. I’m OK with playing without points. I’m OK playing with points.

“But for me it’s more the political side of things, because, you know, Poland is supporting Ukrainians, and the war is right next to my country. So basically, it’s harder on me from that perspective.

“I don’t really mind about points. For me, you know, it’s Wimbledon, for sure. It’s one of the most important tournaments in the season.

“But there is war going on. So I look at it more from that way than, you know, what’s gonna happen on rankings.

“I just hope that the people that are responsible for making the decisions, they are all going to come together so our sport is going to be united, because for now, I feel like it’s not united.”

Diane Parry knocked out Barbora Krejcikova (Thibault Camus/AP) (AP)

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova was sent crashing out by French teenager Diane Parry.

Krejcikova, the Czech second seed, was playing her first tournament in three months after an elbow injury.

All looked well when she raced into a 6-1 2-0 lead but Parry, 19, reeled off six straight games to tie the match and eventually ran out 1-6 6-2 6-3 winner.

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