Tearful Naomi Osaka taunted, loses at Indian Wells – Press Enterprise

INDIAN WELLS – Startled by a derogatory yell from a spectator, Naomi Osaka lost 6-0, 6-4 to Veronika Kudermetova of Russia in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday night.

Osaka was trailing in the first set when a woman in the stands shouted: “Osaka, you shit.” The Japanese star turned to the chair umpire to ask him to take action. But the referee said she didn’t know who it was and couldn’t do anything.

“I didn’t hear what the lady said because I’m so focused on my game, on my service game, that I didn’t understand what she said,” said Kudermetova. “But after that moment when I saw Naomi start crying.”

Osaka later made the unusual request to use the referee’s microphone to address the crowd, which didn’t happen.

A supervisor came to the court for a lengthy discussion with Osaka. The supervisor told the referee: “If it happens again, we will find him.” Kudermetova waited behind the baseline for the game to resume.

Afterwards, Osaka addressed the crowd with tears streaming down her face.

“I’ve been molested before, to be honest, like it didn’t really bother me, but molested here,” she said, her voice trailing off.

“I was watching a video of Venus and Serena (Williams) being abused here. If you’ve never seen it, you should check it out,” Osaka said. “I don’t know why, but it went through my head and was repeated many times. I’m trying not to cry.”

The Williams sisters were berated by fans in Indian Wells in 2001. Venus pulled out of her scheduled semi-final against Serena with a knee injury just before it was supposed to start. As Venus and her father Richard took their seats to watch Serena in the final against Kim Clijsters, the crowd started booing. As the game went on, fans mocked Serena. Her father said he was the target of racial abuse. The sisters boycotted the tournament for years before finally returning.

Osaka said she struggled with depression after winning the 2018 US Open in a controversial final against Serena Williams. She retired from the French Open last year to take care of her mental health.

Osaka won her opening match against Sloane Stephens in three sets on her return to the desert, where she won the title in 2018. Osaka had not competed in a tournament since January, when she lost in the round of 16 at the Australian Open. After only playing a handful of events last year, her ranking dropped to 78th in the world.

“I know she’s the strong, the great person,” Kudermetova said. “I think she’ll be fine.”

Earlier, Daniil Medvedev defeated Tomas Machac 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the Russian’s first tournament since rising to world No. 1.

Medvedev quickly finished off his Czech opponent, finishing off Machac in just over an hour. The Russian won 80% of his first serve points and saved the only break point he faced.

Rafael Nadal didn’t have it easy opening his quest for a fourth title in Indian Wells. He was pushed to the limit by training partner Sebastian Korda before winning 6-2 1-6 7-6 (3) to give Nadal a 16-0 record that year.

“I’ve started playing a little more crosscourt with my forehand and having a little more rest,” Nadal said. “He made a few mistakes and I was able to save myself.”

Nadal won the Australian Open in January for his 21st major championship record, breaking a tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He won other titles in Melbourne and Mexico.

Nadal trailed 5-2 in the decider before winning four straight games with two breaks from Korda to take a 6-5 lead. Korda held at 6-all to force the tiebreak. The 38th Korda led 3-2 and then Nadal reeled off five points in a row to end the 2½ hour match.

“He’s one of the greatest players of all time. He’s super hot. Hasn’t lost a game this year,” Korda said. “Kind of pushing him to the edge was great. That shows a lot of my game how dangerous it can be against strong opponents.”

Earlier this week, Medvedev received a trophy commemorating his status at the top of the ATP Tour rankings. He ousted Djokovic, who was not allowed to enter the United States to play because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Medvedev needs to reach the quarterfinals in the desert to stay on top.

“If I lose it because either I play a bad match or my opponent plays a great one, there’s the next tournament in Miami,” he said. “That’s tennis, every week is a new story. Right now it’s Indian Wells Week and I want to make a good story out of it.”

Medvedev is among players from Russia and Belarus who will be playing without flags, symbols or anthems at Indian Wells as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The decision to eliminate their national identity was made by the International Tennis Federation and both tours.

In the women’s tournament, Jasmine Paolini defeated second-placed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round, securing the Italian’s first win of her career against a top 10 player. Sabalenka fired eight aces before the end with ten double faults.

Defending champion Paula Badosa beat Tereza Martincova 6:2, 7:6 (4). Badosa’s title in the desert in October began her climb from 70th in the world into the top 10.

No.9 Ons Jabeur lost to 409-ranked Daria Saville 7-5 6-7(0) 6-4. Shelby Rogers, a quarterfinalist here last year, beat Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 7-6 ( 7) in 10th place.

No. 18 Leyla Fernandez advanced when Amanda Anisimova resigned after losing the second set’s tie break on serve. Anisimova failed to convert four match points in the second set before citing illness. Fernandez won 2-6, 7-6 (0).


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