'Get well soon': Tennis fans saddened by Naomi Osaka announcement

Naomi Osaka, pictured here speaking to the media at the Madrid Open.
Naomi Osaka speaks to the media at the Madrid Open. (Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images) (Europa Press via Getty Images)

Tennis fans are sending their well-wishes to Naomi Osaka after the Japanese star was forced to withdraw from the Italian Open this week ahead of Roland Garros.

The four-time grand slam champion suffered an achilles injury in her opening match at the Madrid Open earlier this month, before struggling in a second-round loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo.

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The 24-year-old announced on Monday night that the injury hadn't healed enough to play in Rome and she was taking every precaution to be fit for the French Open.

"Unfortunately I'm going to have to withdraw from Rome as the injury which I picked up last week in Madrid hasn't healed yet," Osaka said in a statement.

"It's an Achilles injury so I need to be careful, especially in advance of Roland Garros."

She has been replaced in the Rome draw by Spain's Nuria Parrizas Dias.

Osaka was visibly hampered by the injury in her loss to Sorribes Tormo.

“Honestly, I have had it before, like maybe two years ago I think after Miami or something," she said of the pain in her achilles.

"But I can't imagine that it will be a huge problem unless something significant happens, but I think for right now, just learning how to move forward with everything.”

The former World No.1 has never reached the final of a clay-court tournament, but will be hoping to change that record when the French Open starts on May 22.

Currently ranked 38th in the world, Osaka has shown signs of a return to form this year.

The 24-year-old reached the final at the Miami Open last month, where she lost to World No.1 Iga Swiatek.

Fans reacted to the news of Osaka's withdrawal on social media, wishing her the best in her recovery.

Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka advance in Rome

Meanwhile, fellow former World No.1s Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka have advanced to the second round, but Angelique Kerber suffered another loss.

Ajla Tomljanovic, the only Australian in the draw, also progressed on Monday against World No.30 Camila Giorgi.

Tomljanovic was leading 6-3 4-2 when her Italian opponent retired after 79 minutes.

Halep, champion in Rome in 2020, beat France's Alize Cornet 6-4 6-4, exacting revenge for her fourth-round loss at the Australian Open in January.

Simona Halep and Alize Cornet, pictured here shaking hands after their match at the Italian Open.
Simona Halep and Alize Cornet shake hands after their match at the Italian Open. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) (Alex Pantling via Getty Images)

In a match that had 10 break points converted by the two players, Halep led 5-1 in both sets before Cornet twice fought back.

But the Romanian star eventually got the job done, sealing progress with a forehand winner on Cornet's serve.

Azarenka met a familiar foe in Swiss Viktorija Golubic, who she beat at the same stage of the Madrid Open late last month.

Although the match in Madrid was a closer contest, this time Azarenka won emphatically with a 6-3 6-0 scoreline, wrapping up the match in just 68 minutes.

Kerber was beaten 6-1 6-4 by Coco Gauff.

The former No.1 and three-time grand slam champion has now lost six-straight matches.

with agencies

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