Naomi Osaka’s woes worsened when the struggling former world number one withdrew from her Pan Pacific Open home in Tokyo on Thursday, complaining of stomach pains. The 24-year-old Japanese was due to play in the second round against Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia later in the day, but withdrew because her body does not allow her to participate. “It is an honor to play at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in front of the amazing fans here in Japan,” Osaka said in a statement from the organizers.
“This is and will always be a special tournament for me and I wish I could have stepped out on the track today, but my body won’t allow it.”
“Thank you for all your support this week and I’ll see you next year,” she added.
Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, wanted to put an end to poor form in Tokyo, where she has been the defending champion since the tournament was last played in 2019.
She has dropped to 48th in the women’s world ranking after a miserable run that saw her crash in the first round of her previous three tournaments.
Osaka’s first round match in Tokyo against Australian Daria Saville lasted just seven minutes before her opponent succumbed to an injured knee.
Saville dropped out of the race and was later found to have torn her anterior cruciate ligament.
Osaka admitted on Monday that she had gone “more down than up” this year.
“This year wasn’t the best year for me, but I learned a lot about myself,” she said, adding that she was “lucky to be healthy.”
“Life has ups and downs, and this year was more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”
Osaka has been out of the top 10 all year, having endured first-round defeats at both the French and US Opens.
She withdrew from Wimbledon with an Achilles tendon injury after initially considering skipping the tournament because no ranking points would be awarded.
Osaka has previously spoken of struggles with her mental health.
Her withdrawal from the Pan Pacific Open was just the final blow to the tournament, which saw several big names knocked out in the opening rounds.
Top-class Paula Badosa of Spain and runner-up Caroline Garcia of France were eliminated in their opening matches, along with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
Number six-seeded Karolina Pliskova lost 6-3, 6-4 to Croatian Petra Martic in the second round on Thursday and became the last victim.
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