Tennis fans erupt over Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka news after US Open

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Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka, pictured here in action at the US Open.
Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka have been named on the entry list for Indian Wells. Image: Getty

Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka have been named on the entry list for the upcoming Indian Wells tournament, however mystery surrounds whether or not they will actually play.

Barty and Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men’s and women’s players in the world, headlined the entry list for the BNP Paribas Open when it was released this week.

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Normally held in March, the tournament 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.

Djokovic is seeking a record sixth title at Indian Wells having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this year, while he remains in the hunt for a calendar year Grand Slam at the US Open.

Barty has won five titles this year, including Wimbledon.

Joining Djokovic in the men's draw is Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.

Former tournament champions Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Elena Vesnina, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka were all named in the women's field.

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.

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

Five-times champion Roger Federer, three-times winner Rafa Nadal and defending men's champion Dominic Thiem, who are all dealing with injury, were also not named.

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Doubts about Naomi Osaka's participation

Osaka's participation remains in doubt given she said last week that she would be taking a break from tennis to concentrate on her mental health.

The World No.3 has struggled on the court since she withdrew from the French Open in May amid a row with tournament officials over required media appearances, which she said had a negative impact on her mental health.

The 23-year-old Japanese star, who won her first WTA title at Indian Wells in 2018, announced her plans to take a break after her bid to retain the US Open title ended in a third-round upset against Fernandez.

"How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently, like, 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.

Serena Williams, pictured here in action at Wimbledon.
Serena Williams hasn't played since retiring hurt at Wimbledon. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

"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."

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

There is also a train of thought that Barty might head home to Australia following her loss in the third round at the US Open given she hasn't seen her family since March.

Williams, who won the most recent of her two Indian Wells titles in 2001, has had an injury-marred season and has not competed since she retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon in tears due to the leg injury.

The 39-year-old said two weeks ago she decided to sit out the year's final grand slam event on the advice of her medical team and did not give a timeline for her return.

with agencies

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