Naomi Osaka withdraws from Italian Open in latest injury blow

Naomi Osaka at the Madrid Open

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Italian Open as injuries continue to hamper her progress on the court.

The former world number one revealed she is still struggling with the achilles injury she picked up earlier this month.

She was due to face Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in Rome tomorrow — the same opponent who knocked her out of the Madrid Open last time out.

The official WTA Twitter account posted the update on Osaka, along with a statement from the player.

“Unfortunately I’m going to have to withdraw from Rome as the injury which I picked up last week in Madrid hasn’t healed yet,” the four-time Grand Slam winner said.

“It’s an Achilles injury so I need to be careful especially in advance of Roland Garros.

“I love this city and always enjoy playing in front of the Italian fans so I will be sorry to miss them — but look forward to coming back next year.”

Osaka injury woes

Osaka has struggled with her fitness since she returned to the court from her hiatus in 2021. She had taken a break from tennis in order to focus on her mental health, following her decision to boycott media duties at the French Open earlier in the year.

The Japanese star took a stand at Roland-Garros in an attempt to raise awareness on how some press conferences and interviews can have a negative effect on athletes’ mental welfare. She later revealed she had been suffering with bouts of depression and anxiety.

Appearances were few and far between for Osaka after that and her form noticeably dipped. After her third round exit at the 2021 US Open, she announced her decision to step away from the court.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – MARCH 28: Naomi Osaka of Japan awaits the serve from Alison Riske of United States during the Women’s Singles match on Day 8 of the 2022 Miami Open presented by Itaú at Hard Rock Stadium on March 28, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old made her comeback at the Melbourne Summer Set in the new year, where she reached the semi-finals. However, she was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to an abdominal injury.

Osaka then injured her ankle during her loss against Sorribes Tormo at the Madrid Open and has not been able to recover in time to compete in Rome.

What next for Osaka?

Due to her absence and dip in form, Osaka faced a harsh drop down the world rankings last year. However, after reaching the Miami Open final last month, she jumped from 77th to 35th, which will have been a welcome achievement after plummeting from 14th in the world to 85th back in January.

Despite another frustrating setback, Osaka appears to be looking ahead to the French Open and making sure she is fit enough to compete at the clay tournament.

The Japanese star has never made it past the third round at Roland Garros so she will certainly be looking to build on that this year.

The French Open will start on May 16th and run until June 5th.

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