Naomi Osaka delivered a ‘perfect’ response to reporters when questioned on the Novak Djokovic deportation debacle which has consumed media attention throughout the last couple of weeks.
Djokovic was initially granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open, despite being unvaccinated against coronavirus. However, after arriving in Australia and being entered into the main draw, the world number one had his visa revoked and has been banned from the country for three years.
A number of tennis stars have been asked to offer their thoughts on the situation and defending Australian Open champion Osaka is the latest to share her view.
The four-time major winner opened her title defence with a comfortable win over Colombia’s Camila Osorio –– winning 6-3 6-3 against the world number 50.
Osaka returned to tennis at the start of this year, after taking four months away from the game last season to focus on her mental health.
At the Melbourne Summer Set, the 24-year-old reached the semi-final, before withdrawing from the competition with an abdominal injury.
The Japanese star showed few signs of injury against Osorio, however, and stormed to victory with relative ease to register her 23rd win in 24 matches in Melbourne.
“I thought I played pretty well given the circumstances,” she said.
“Overall I’m happy to be here and see everyone in the audience.
“I like the hot conditions but when I come here everyone is warm and welcoming. I’m sure that has a positive effect on me.”
Osaka was keen to focus on speaking about her tennis and gave a blunt response when asked about the Djokovic drama.
“Is my opinion going to help anything?” She stressed.
When the reporter in question explained they were asking what other players thought of the situation, Osaka responded: “Yeah, I’ll kind of pass on that. Thanks though.”
This press conference was a clear sign that Osaka now has a more hardened approach to media duties.
Last year, the former world number one revealed her dislike of speaking to the media and refused to take part in press conferences at Roland Garros.
But it was evident the 24-year-old appeared more relaxed during press proceedings this time around and fans were quick to comment on her impressive response to the Djokovic questions.
Freelance tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg shared a transcript of Osaka’s answers and wrote: “Adored this.”
Similarly, another user said: “Perfect.”
A third added: “Well played Naomi, well played.”
Osaka will face American Madison Brengle in round two on Wednesday.
Brengle beat Dayana Yastremska in her opening match after the Ukrainian retired when trailing 5-0 in the final set.