Osaka withdraws from tournament in call for justice

Fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka reached the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open on Thursday (AEST) and withdrew a few hours later in a call for racial justice.

The last top-10 seed in the women's bracket joined professional athletes in basketball, baseball and soccer in demanding change after Jacob Blake was shot by police.

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from a tennis tournament to protest the shooting of an African-American man by police in Wisconsin.Credit:Getty Images

“In January, I didn’t know if I was going to play at all,” she said. “So end of January, I decided: You know what? I might try, last time, and see what happens.”

In the men's event, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had no problems with his creaky neck or the swirling winds during a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff that was by far his best showing of the week.

“Everything was worked on in the last six months, I had plenty of time,” Djokovic said. “I worked on every single thing. It's great it's paying off so early after the break.”

Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 after exhibition matches he organised in Serbia and Croatia in June with no social distancing.

“Right now [the neck] it's not a concern," he said. “It's still not 100 per cent but it's close to that. I've been gaining more range in my movement of the neck every single day, so no complaints.”

In the semi-finals, he'll face Roberto Bautista Agut, who knocked out defending champion Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day.

Medvedev failed to close it out in the second set, and Bautista Agut rallied for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory that eliminated yet another top player out of the tune-up tournament for the US Open. Djokovic is the only player left in the tournament with an ATP Masters 1000 title to his credit.

“Even in the third set I had my chances and didn't take them,” Medvedev said.

Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas also advanced to the semi-finals when Reilly Opelka withdrew during the first set of their match after getting treatment for an injured right knee. He'll face Milos Raonic, who beat Filip Krajinovic 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.

AP

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