'Part of the sport': Novak Djokovic hits out over Naomi Osaka move

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Novak Djokovic (pictured right) during a press conference and (pictured left) Naomi Osaka answering questions at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic (pictured right) has questioned Naomi Osaka's decision to boycott press conferences at the French Open. (Getty Images)

ATP World No.1 Novak Djokovic has weighed-in on Naomi Osaka's controversial decision to boycott press conferences at the French Open.

Osaka stunned fans and commentators on Thursday when she announced she won't be conducting any press conferences at Roland Garros in order to protect her mental health.

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The World No.2 said she hoped to donate any fines she accrued to mental health charities.

Osaka's decision has divided the tennis world, but now men's World No.1 Djokovic has questioned her decision.

The 18-time Grand Slam champ said he understood her move and feels facing the media can be difficult after a loss.

"Okay, she probably has her reasons why," Djokovic said after his victory at the Belgrade Open.

"I don't know the WTA rules and the Grand Slam rules - whether they have to fine her or not, of she decides to avoid attending press conferences?

"I'm not sure....I don't know what to think about it, to be honest."

But, Djokovic also claimed media conferences were part of the sport for all players.

Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic on Monday, September 10, 2018.
Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic holding the US Open trophies in 2018. (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

"I understand that press conferences sometimes can be very unpleasant," he continued.

"And it's not something that you enjoy, always, you know, especially if you lose a match or something like this.

"But it is part of the sport and part of your life on the tour. This is something we have to do, otherwise, we will get fined.

"I mean, that's at leas the case on the men's side. I don't know about the rules on the women's side. So that's all I can say."

Tennis world divided over Osaka's decision

Osaka's decision has divided the sport's world.

Former Aussie star Sam Groth was one of the star's to question Osaka's call.

While Groth can understand Osaka's point about taking mental health seriously, he believes she has an obligation to promote the sport to the world.

"Deeming herself able to simply opt out of a requirement every player on tour is obligated to do is, quite simply, a joke," Groth wrote for the Herald Sun.

"Her announcement, to me, is misguided and fraught with hypocrisy. You don’t want to speak with a group of journalists who follow the tour around the world, yet you’re happy to post images to millions of faceless followers on social media platforms?

"Naomi is showing a total disregard for the sport that has made her the superstar she is. Players of her standing have a responsibility to promote their sport and do what they can to protect its future."

However, Osaka has also been inundated with plenty of support.

This included from sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, who works with French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who said she appreciated Osaka's concern about facing questions after a defeat.

"I absolutely understand the decision in terms of when a player loses a match, and tennis is such a specific sport because at the end of the tournament only one person does not lose," she said.

"It's tough emotionally to cope with it; it is one of the challenges that tennis brings. It's sometimes overwhelming."

with AAP

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