Tennis – Indian Wells – Insulted by spectator then wiped out by Kudermetova: Osaka bursts into tears

At the very beginning of the year, ahead of her return to competition in Australia after a terribly difficult 2021 year on a psychological level, the young woman of 24, plagued by recurring anxiety issues, said: “just want to feel pleasure” on the road. On Saturday, in the Californian desert where she had almost only good memories so far – especially her first title in 2018 – she was far from being awarded. And the defeat, finally conceded 6-0, 6-4 against the Russian Veronika Kudermetova, is not the main reason.

Naomi Osaka

Credit: Getty Images

These are these words, “Naomi, you’re stupid!”, came out of the crowd during the 3rd game of the first round, causing him to recoil. The Japanese couldn’t hide her grief by sitting in her chair to switch sides. She couldn’t hold back a few tears after complaining about this behavior to officials. Without consequences for the person who uttered these words, if it sometimes happens in the NBA that fans are evicted because of their verbal provocations or their aggressive behavior.

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Memory of the Williams sisters

Osaka kept her eyes foggy for the rest of the game. She had more trouble playing through than hoping for a very hypothetical victory, given her obvious discomfort on center court. Especially since Kudermetova was able to remain undisturbed despite the circumstances, even when her opponent, driven by a pride we have rarely seen in such difficulties, seemed to come back into the game. Osaka eventually lost her serve in the 7th game of the second set and the Russian didn’t pass up the opportunity to end it.

The latter seemed very shy at the microphone on the field. “I didn’t hear what the lady (the spectator, editor’s note) said because I was focused on my game”Kudermetova explained after the match† “But then I saw Naomi start to cry. I didn’t understand what had happened.” Quite unexpectedly, Osaka agreed to speak on the field after his defeat. A terribly hard exercise that brought new tears to her cheeks.

Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells

Credit: Getty Images

“To be honest, I feel like I’ve been bullied before, it didn’t really bother me. But I watched a video of Venus and Serena Williams being harassed here. If you’ve never watched it, you should watch it”, she said painfully between sobs. In 2001, during the final that Serena Williams beat Kim Clijsters, her sister Venus and their father Richard were insulted in the stands. For 14 years, the two champions refused to return to play in this tournament.

“I try not to cry”

“I don’t know why, but it just popped into my head and it stuck… I’m trying not to cry. I just have to say thank you and congratulations”, she concluded with a nod to Kudermetova. After her premature elimination in the third round of the US Open, of which she was the defending champion, against young Canadian Leylah Fernandez, Osaka burst into tears at a press conference in September.

She had previously withdrawn from the tournament at Roland-Garros after refusing to answer questions from the media because she revealed she had anxiety problems characterized by “multiple depressive episodes”. She had skipped Wimbledon before returning home to the Tokyo Games, where she had lit the Olympic cauldron and where expectations were high. But she had failed to earn a gold medal and was eliminated in the round of 16.

After her three-month hiatus in the wake of the US Open, Osaka said she felt “as good as she could be” at the start of the Australian Open, where she also defended her title but couldn’t go past 3rd. round. Back to the 78th place in the world, psychologically still very vulnerable, the question arises again what will be his future on the courts.

Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells

Credit: Getty Images

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