WTA

Osaka brought to tears by spectator, eliminated from Indian Wells by Kudermetova

By Sports Desk March 13, 2022

Naomi Osaka was brought to tears by a heckling spectator during her Indian Wells Open match with Veronika Kudermetova before going on to lose 6-0 6-4.

The incident happened after Osaka had been broken by Kudermetova in the first game, with someone in attendance reported to have yelled "Naomi, you suck".

Four-time grand slam winner Osaka, competing in her first tournament since January's shock early Australian Open exit, appeared to ask the chair umpire to take action.

Osaka initially put that unneeded distraction behind her by taking the next point, but she wasted two break opportunities and Kudermetova successfully held to move 2-0 ahead.

The 24-year-old was in tears as she prepared to serve her next game and held further discussions with the court supervisor after going 3-0 down.

She could not recover and, after losing the first set 6-0, Osaka suffered the only break of serve in the seventh game of the second set to lose the contest fairly resoundingly. 

Kudermetova will now face Marie Bouzkova for a place in the last 16 after the Czech recovered to see off home hopeful Jessica Pegula 5-7 6-2 6-0.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka also made it through on Saturday with a 6-3 7-5 victory over lucky loser Astra Sharma, setting up a meeting with Elena Rybakina.

Leyla Fernandez saved four match points against Amanda Anisimova in a dramatic match that came to an end when the American retired through illness.

After losing the opener 6-2, Fernandez took the second set to a tie-break but felt unable to continue. Anisimova will meet Shelby Rogers in a rematch of last year's last-16 encounter.

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    Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

    US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

    For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

    Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

    With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

    And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

    "It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

    "I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

    "So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

    "But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

    "So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

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