Naomi Osaka withdrew from the final of the Western & Southern Open, leaving Victoria Azarenka the tournament champion.
Osaka overcame Elise Mertens in straight sets on Friday to reach the final at Flushing Meadows but suffered an injury to her left hamstring in doing so. That means Azarenka has a first WTA singles title since Miami in 2016, albeit in circumstances she would not have wanted.
“I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury,” Osaka said Saturday. “I pulled my left hamstring [Friday] in the second set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.
“This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.”
Osaka’s decision not to go ahead with the final capped an eventful tournament for the former world No. 1, who initially pulled out of her semifinal to join in the nationwide protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin.
Born to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, the 22-year-old said she was withdrawing from the tournament to “get a conversation started in a majority white sport.”
Osaka reversed her decision, with both semifinals pushed back 24 hours from Thursday, and she emerged on the Grandstand court at Flushing Meadows wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
“It’s been a little bit stressful. I couldn’t really sleep [Thursday] night so I’m glad I was able to play at a good level,” she said after beating Mertens. “I’m really glad I didn’t mentally collapse. I was down a break in the second, I was down in the tiebreak. I’m really glad I didn’t just dip.”
Osaka is due to begin her U.S. Open bid against fellow Japanese player Misaki Doi in New York on Monday. She is seeded fourth in the women’s singles field.
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