The 2019 Open winner and reigning champion from Japan, Naomi Osaka, has stated that she would not be competing in the 2019 Australian Open, dealing further blow to the competition. Since withdrawing from the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, Osaka, who is ranked 47th in the world, has not competed.
Osaka has lost in the opening round of her last three competitions, including the US Open, where she has won the title twice, and has only finished one match since May.
Osaka's professional future
Osaka's withdrawal from the Australian Open, which officially starts on January 16, raises more questions about her professional future.
After skipping the French Open in 2021, Osaka took a mental health sabbatical and subsequently acknowledged that she had been dealing with depression and anxiety for some time. Osaka's recent social media posts of her vacation to Europe with her rapper lover Cordae have some people wondering whether and when she would resume competitive play.
In a statement, the organizers of the Australian Open expressed their disappointment at Osaka's withdrawal:
Other renowned athletes have already withdrawn from the Australian Open, including previous finalist Simona Halep and men's world number one Carlos Alcaraz, who withdrew on Saturday owing to an ankle ailment.
After getting hurt while working out in Auckland, Venus Williams has also surrendered her wildcard admission. These absences occur in addition to Roger Federer, Ashleigh Barty, and Serena Williams' retirements in 2021. Despite these setbacks, the Australian Open will still feature some of the biggest names in tennis.
Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic, who missed the event in 2022, will return to the tournament, along with Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal, who took the title in Djokovic's absence. Nadal will assume the top seeding for the event, following Alcaraz's withdrawal.
Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska has been promoted to the main draw in place of Osaka. While the tournament will undoubtedly be missing some of its biggest stars, it promises to be an exciting event for tennis fans around the world.