Naomi Osaka will take part in the Western & Southern Open semi-finals after reversing her decision to withdraw from the tournament in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Milos Raonic has called on the ATP and WTA tours to "band together" in the fight against racial inequality and social injustice, believing stronger action is required,

All three NBA playoff games scheduled to take place on Wednesday were postponed amid protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Other sports followed suit: MLB saw three games postponed, while five of the six scheduled MLS fixtures also did not go ahead. In tennis, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Western and Southern Open, a move she hopes "can get a conversation started in a majority white sport".

The United States Tennis Association, along with the ATP and WTA, which run men's and women's tennis, announced there would be no play in the tournament in New York on Thursday, with the semi-finals moved to Friday instead.

Canadian Raonic, who is due to play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four, offered his support, insisting previous steps taken "can only do so much".

The world number 30 also made clear he believes the time has come to make a stand in a way that has financial implications, what he described as "real disruption".

"I think having a sign somewhere, of support, banners at a tournament or wearing a shirt in a warmup at an NBA game, it can only do so much," Raonic told the media.

"I think real disruption ... that's what makes change. I think real disruption is caused by affecting people in a monetary way. And that can cause some kind of change.

"And I'm hoping with what the NBA does, and I'm hoping that we at least on the men's tour as well as the women's [tour], we band together and show our support because there are many people that are not being treated fairly, are being disrespected, having to live in fear and a lot of things that I've never had to experience.

"It's very unfortunate, it's very sad, and I'm hoping that there is a change, I'm hoping that the actions that do take course, over the next days, weeks, months, years, this isn't going to change in a day, but really do provide a change, systematic change, equal opportunity for everybody, especially in the free world."

Osaka released a statement on Twitter confirming she would not be participating in her semi-final against Elise Mertens, explaining there were "more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis".

"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction," the two-time major winner wrote.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again.

"When will it ever be enough? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd."

Barack Obama, Billie Jean King and LeBron James led rallying calls on a seismic day in American sport, as games were called off in protest at racial injustice.

In a forceful message, athletes and teams downed tools in North America as they boycotted scheduled fixtures following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Blake was shot several times in the back, prompting nationwide protests.

All three NBA playoff games set for Wednesday were postponed, and it was reported widely that players from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers were in favour of boycotting the rest of the season.

The NBA board of governors were set for a Thursday meeting, with players also reportedly due to hold a follow-up to their Wednesday get-together.

Major League Baseball saw three games postponed, namely those between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.

Five of six Major League Soccer games also did not go ahead, while Thursday's play at the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in New York was suspended, with Naomi Osaka pulling out of the tournament after reaching the semi-finals.

Former US president Obama saluted the Milwaukee Bucks for boycotting Game 5 in their series against the Orlando Magic.

Milwaukee is the nearest major city to Kenosha, where Blake was shot. Obama also saluted Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who criticised President Donald Trump when he spoke powerfully on Tuesday. Rivers accused the Republican Party of "spewing this fear".

Obama wrote on Twitter: "I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It's going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values."

Speaking earlier in the day, Lakers superstar James wrote on Twitter: "F*** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT".

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer added: "I am again angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake. @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well, we need real police accountability. Give citizens data to do so. Let's have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid."

Tennis great King, who has fought for the growth of women's sport and for social justice, praised Japanese player Osaka's decision to abandon the Western and Southern Open in her individual protest.

King wrote: "A brave and impactful move by @naomiosaka, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world. She was to play in the semis. Athletes using platforms for good means so much. Don't remain silent. #BlackLivesMatter"

Fellow tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova added: "An amazing stance Naomi ... well done, nothing but respect!!!"

The NHL faced criticism, however, for a perceived lack of response as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue.

Canadian star Evander Kane, who plays for the San Jose Sharks, tore into the league by saying: "Actually it's incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgement from the @nhl, just straight up insulting."

The Western & Southern Open will not take place on Thursday amid protests against racial injustice.

Teams and players in North America boycotted several games across different sports on Wednesday over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in Wisconsin.

Blake was repeatedly shot in the back by police, prompting nationwide protests within professional sports.

After two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka announced she would not play her Western & Southern Open semi-final against Elise Mertens scheduled for Thursday, the tournament was paused.

"As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States," a statement read.

"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27.

"Play will resume on Friday, August 28."

It remains unclear if that means Osaka will take her place in the draw. The other women's semi-final is between Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta.

Novak Djokovic is due to face Roberto Bautista Agut in a men's semi, while Stefanos Tsitsipas is scheduled to take on Milos Raonic.

Novak Djokovic cruised into the Western & Southern Open semi-finals, while defending champion Daniil Medvedev fell on Wednesday.

Djokovic, the world number one, continued his impressive run in New York, where the ATP 1000 event is being held instead of Cincinnati due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Serbian may have been expecting to have Medvedev awaiting him in the last four, but the Russian exited.

Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas is also into the semi-finals.

 

DJOKOVIC RACES THROUGH

Djokovic needed just 62 minutes to breeze past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 to reach a record-equalling eighth Western & Southern Open semi.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who is yet to drop a set at the tournament, improved to 21-0 this year.

Djokovic tied Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer and Bill Talbert's semi-final totals at the ATP 1000 tournament.

BAUTISTA AGUT BEATS MEDVEDEV

Defending champion and last year's US Open runner-up, Medvedev departed in the quarter-finals.

Medvedev, the third seed, was beaten by eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Bautista Agut has lost eight of his 11 meetings with Djokovic, but won two of their three clashes last year.

TSITSIPAS THROUGH AS RAONIC SAVES MP

Tsitsipas was only on court for 38 minutes before Reilly Opelka retired due to a right knee injury.

Opelka led 6-5 against the fourth seed before retiring due to the injury.

Tsitsipas will face Milos Raonic, who saved a match point before overcoming Filip Krajinovic 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

Raonic saved a match point in the 10th game of the third set, winning 11 of the final 13 points to advance.

Naomi Osaka will skip her Western & Southern Open semi-final in protest of racial injustice in the United States following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake – a black man – was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Wisconsin and the incident has prompted nationwide protests within professional sports.

All three NBA playoff games at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday were postponed amid the calls for change to police brutality and injustice.

The Milwaukee Brewers-Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres games were also postponed in MLB midweek, while most of Wednesday's MLS fixtures were also called off.

Now, two-time grand slam champion Osaka – who was due to meet Elise Mertens in Thursday's semi-final at the WTA Premier event in New York – will not take to the court.

After outlasting Anett Kontaveit, the Japanese star and fourth seed released a statement via Twitter.

"Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semi-finals match tomorrow. However, before I am a [sic] athlete, I am a black woman," Osaka wrote.

"And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again.

"When will it ever be enough? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd."

Naomi Osaka overcame Anett Kontaveit to reach her first Western & Southern Open semi-final, while Maria Sakkari's memorable run came to an end.

Japanese star Osaka rallied past Kontaveit in three sets at the WTA Premier tournament in New York, where the event is being held instead of Cincinnati amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sakkari, who conquered 23-time grand slam champion, Serena Williams, in the last 16, bowed out in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

 

OSAKA OUTLASTS KONTAVEIT

Two-time grand slam champion Osaka was made to work for her 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory over 12th seed Kontaveit.

After dropping the opening set, fourth seed Osaka regrouped – reeling off nine successive games and hitting 29 winners to earn a semi-final showdown against Elise Mertens.

It is Osaka's second semi-final of the year following her final-four run at the Brisbane International prior to January's Australian Open.

Mertens – the 14th seed – awaits following her routine 6-1 6-3 victory over American qualifier Jessica Pegula.

 

SAKKARI SENT PACKING

After claiming the scalps of Coco Gauff and former world number one Williams, 13th seed Sakkari suffered a 6-4 6-3 loss to Johanna Konta.

Sakkari was unable to continue her fine run ahead of the US Open as British eighth seed Konta reached her second Premier semi-final thanks to 18 winners, four aces and three breaks of serve.

AZARENKA ROLLS ON

A two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka is next up for Konta after the 2013 Cincinnati winner edged Ons Jabeur 7-6 (11-9) 6-2.

Azarenka emerged victorious in one hour, 44 minutes as the resurgent Belarusian moved into the Western & Southern Open semis for the first time in seven years.

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