Naomi Osaka pulled out of her Gippsland Trophy semi-final on Saturday with “a niggling injury” but said she looked forward to competing at the Australian Open which starts on Monday.
MELBOURNE: Former Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka withdrew from their warm-up tournaments for the year’s first Grand Slam on Saturday (Feb 6), citing injuries.
Osaka pulled out of her Gippsland Trophy semi-final with an unspecified “niggling injury” but said she looked forward to competing at the Australian Open which starts on Monday.
“I have a niggling injury and in light of the AO on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week.”
The Japanese player, who won at Melbourne Park in 2019, is among the top contenders for the year’s first Grand Slam.
Osaka starts with a clash against former quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Belgian Elise Mertens has a walkover to the final of the Gippsland Trophy.
Azarenka, who won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013, withdrew from her Grampians Trophy quarter-final against Annett Kontaveit, giving the Estonian a walkover to the semi-finals.
The WTA said the Belarusian had a lower back problem.
The injuries are a further blow for organisers, coming a day after Serena Williams withdrew from her semi-final against world number one Ash Barty.
Third-seeded Osaka faces former quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round of the Australian Open, while 12th seed Azarenka is scheduled to meet American Jessica Pegula.