'Very sad': Tennis fans gutted over Naomi Osaka announcement

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·Sports Editor
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  • Naomi Osaka
    Japanese tennis player
Naomi Osaka, pictured here in action at the US Open.
Naomi Osaka in action at the US Open. (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Indian Wells organisers have announced Naomi Osaka will not play the WTA 1000 event after she flagged her intentions to take a break from tennis at the US Open.

The 23-year-old Japanese star is a former champion at Indian Wells, winning the title in 2018 with victory over Daria Kasatkina.

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The four-time grand slam champion had been included on the entry list for the 2021 event in California, set to take place next month.

However organisers confirmed on Wednesday that she will not play.

Osaka said earlier this month she planned to take an indefinite break from tennis after her third-round exit from the US Open.

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," Osaka said following her defeat to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who went on to make the final.

"I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."

Osaka, who has dropped out of the top five in the latest world rankings, has been in the spotlight this year after withdrawing from the French Open and skipping Wimbledon over mental health issues.

She said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

Tennis fans were left devastated by the news that Osaka won't play Indian Wells.

Naomi Osaka's sad admission after US Open exit

Osaka had also made an early exit from Cincinnati last month, and bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the early rounds in July.

"I feel like for me recently, when I win I don't feel happy," she said. 

"I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal.

"This is very hard to articulate.

"Basically, I feel like I'm kind of at this point where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match."

Naomi Osaka, pictured here leaving the court after losing to Leylah Fernandez at the US Open.
Naomi Osaka leaves the court after losing to Leylah Fernandez at the US Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Normally held in March, Indian Wells is being played in the American Autumn for the first time after being twice postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament, set for October 4-17, is returning to the Southern California desert for the first time since 2019. 

It was delayed last year and again in March.

World No.1 Ash Barty headlines the field with former tournament champions, Bianca Andreescu, Elena Vesnina, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka also named to play.

Also in the women's field are World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina, former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova.

Three teenagers will make their debuts at Indian Wells - 17-year-old Coco Gauff, 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz and 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu could also play if she is granted a wildcard from tournament organisers.

However 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who sat out the US Open due to a torn hamstring, is not on the entry list.

with agencies

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