Novak Djokovic has praised Naomi Osaka's 'brave' call to withdraw from the French Open following his First Round victory.
The World No.1 started his French Open campaign with his first ever night match on Phillipe Chatrier with no spectators due to a 9pm local curfew, but the Serbian champ went through the gears as he dispatched his opponent to improve to 17-0 in first-round matches at the event.
Djokovic showed some signs of frustration against controversial American Tennys Sandgren, but breezed through the third set in impressive fashion.
Following his match, Djokovic was asked about what he thought of the Osaka drama that has enveloped the Grand Slam.
The 23-year-old Osaka made global headlines this week after withdrawing from the French Open, following backlash over her refusal to take part in post-match media conferences.
In a statement, the Japanese player said she had made the decision to withdraw in order to avoid the stand-off becoming a distraction, adding that she has suffered from bouts of depression since winning the 2018 US Open.
The fallout has made global headlines as fans and athletes throw their support behind the World No.2.
Now, Djokovic has praised Osaka for her brave decision.
"I support her. I think she was very brave to do that. I'm really sorry that she is going through painful times and suffering mentally, is what I have heard," said Djokovic after reaching the second round of the tournament.
"This was, I must say, a very bold decision from her side.
"If she needs to take time and reflect and just recharge that's what she needed to do, and I respect it fully. I hope that she'll come back stronger."
Becker reacts to Osaka withdrawal
Tennis great Boris Becker admits Osaka's heartbreaking mental health admission leaves him worried about the Japanese superstar's career.
Speaking on Eurosport where he works as a tennis pundit, six-time major champion Becker says Osaka's revelation is particularly worrying as dealing with the press is part of the life of an elite athlete.
"She couldn't cope with the pressures of facing the media after she loses a match, but that happens frequently and you have to deal with it," Becker said.
"If she can't cope with the media in Paris, she can't cope with the media in Wimbledon or the US Open. So I almost feel like her career is in danger due to mental health issues."
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