Recently-crowned US Open champion Naomi Osaka has sent a heartfelt message to Australian tennis fans ahead of her appearance at the Brisbane International.
The 20-year-old was recently announced alongside Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal as an entrant into the Australian Open warmup event starting in late December, after capturing the hearts of fans around the world during the US Open final.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) September 25, 2018
The image of Osaka sobbing as boos howled down during the trophy presentation will love long in the memory of tennis fans in Australia, and now the Japanese star wants those fans to know she appreciated all the support she received from the land down under.
“Since winning the US Open, I’ve had lots of messages of support from Australia so it will be special to play at Pat Rafter Arena in January,” Osaka said in a statement.
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Osaka’s commitment to the Brisbane International is a huge coup not only for the tournament but for also for tennis across Australia.
Tournament director Cameron Pearson was glowing of the youngster following her mature actions in the face of Serena Williams’ US Open meltdown.
“She won so many new fans by the way she played the US Open final and we know she will deliver more fantastic performances here in Queensland,” Pearson said
Osaka recently withdrew from the ongoing Wuhan Open due to a viral illness.
The announcement came after Osaka slumped to a 6-4, 6-4 loss against Karolina Pliskova in the finals of the Toray pan-Pacific Open.
“I’m very sorry to have to withdraw from Wuhan. I look forward to playing in Wuhan next year,” WTA official website quoted Osaka, as saying.
Expressing disappointment over Osaka’s withdrawal, tournament director Fabrice Chouquet said that they are sorry for not having the world number seven in the tournament.
“Naomi has had an amazing few weeks and we’re very sorry not to see her here in Wuhan. Of course, we wish her a quick recovery from her illness,” Chouquet said.
Aussies in cruise control at Wuhan Open
Australia’s top two brushed aside their first-round opponents at the Wuhan Open on Monday, with straight-sets victories in the $2.7-million tournament for both Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova.
Barty, the Australian No.1, downed Britain’s Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-4 to progress, and could face Wimbledon champ Angelique Kerber in the third round.
But it was Gavrilova, the Aussie No.2, who caused the biggest upset of the Wuhan Open so far, dumping out 10th-seed and last year’s French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4.
The Latvian, who reached the Wuhan semi-finals last year, mounted a spirited fightback in the second set but was unable to contain her unforced errors and appeared frustrated as Gavrilova held steady to secure the win.
Ostapenko “is a quality player, she always fights and comes (out) firing… so I expected that,” Gavrilova said after the match.
It has been a September to forget for Ostapenko, ranked 12th in the world.
Last week, her defence of the Korea Open title was ended in the second round by then-122nd-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Gavrilova could now face another tough challenger in the third round: Karolina Pliskova, who downed US Open champ Naomi Osaka in straight sets in Tokyo on Sunday to win the Pan Pacific title.
Nine of the world’s top 10 are in action at the Wuhan Open as the 2018 WTA season enters its final stretch and the frenzy for ranking points intensifies. Japanese star Osaka, the current No.8, had to withdraw due to illness.
In addition to $500,000 in prize money, the winner will also lock down 900 points.
In other matches on Monday, the 18th-ranked Madison Keys of the United States defeated China’s Wang Yafan, and 14th-seed Garbine Muguruza eased past Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-0.
An ankle injury forced American Coco Vandeweghe to retire in the third set against Donna Vekic.
World No.1 Simona Halep will begin her Wuhan challenge against Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday.
Daria Gavrilova survived a late surge by Jelena Ostapenko to secure a straight-sets win
Ashleigh Barty, the Australian No.1, downed Britain’s Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-4