ATP

'Nothing is perfect in this life' – Nadal says Osaka 'must be prepared' for hecklers

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Rafael Nadal sympathises with Naomi Osaka over the abuse she was subjected to at Indian Wells, but says athletes must be prepared to deal with it "as nothing is perfect in life".

Osaka was reduced to tears as she crashed out of the Indian Wells Open with a 6-0 6-4 third-round defeat to 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova on Saturday.

A member of the crowd could be heard shouting "Naomi, you suck" after the four-time grand slam champion had been broken in the first game of the match.

Osaka approached the chair umpire to report the incident and held further discussions with the court supervisor after being insulted again.

While accepting there is no place for such conduct, 21-time grand slam winner Nadal believes players should learn to cope with hostile environments.

"These kind of questions are tough to answer because, in some way, the easy answer for me is I feel terrible about what happened, that never should happen," he told reporters.

"The real thing, in the real world, that happens, you know? I feel very sorry for her. We are having, in my opinion, a great life. 

"We are very lucky people that we're able to enjoy amazing experiences because of our life, because we are tennis players. We make money.

"Even if is terrible to hear from that, we must be prepared for that. We need to resist these kind of issues that can happen when you are exposed to people. 

"At the same time, as we like a lot when the people are supporting, when something like this happens, we need to accept and move forward.

"I understand that probably Naomi, she suffered a lot with his probably kind of issues that she has, mental [health] issues. 

"The only thing that I wish for her is to recover well from that and wish her all the very best. But nothing is perfect in this life. We need to be ready for adversities."

Speaking shortly after the incident, an emotional Osaka said being targeted by the spectator reminded her of abuse the Williams sisters were subjected to at the same event.

Serena and Venus Williams were the victims of verbal abuse at the tournament in the Californian desert back in 2001.

The siblings' father, Richard Williams, claimed he had been racially abused at Indian Wells, while Venus Williams said she "heard whatever he heard".

Daniil Medvedev, who will concede his status as world number one back to Novak Djokovic from next week, said he can relate to how Osaka felt after recently hitting out at the "disrespectful" crowd at the Australian Open.

"I didn't see it with my own eyes, and I didn't watch the videos after, so I just heard it from someone who heard from someone, so I don't want to go too much into it," he said.

"It's tough for everybody because I can feel for Naomi. I mean, I felt not great in Australia. 

"You know they're [the players] getting millions. They should be ready for everything. At the same time, we're humans. We all make mistakes, good decisions. 

"Sometimes we feel bad. Sometimes we feel good. I can understand that Naomi didn't feel that great when she heard it and I can completely understand her feelings.

"Life would be easier if everybody would be calm and not angry but, even talking about me, I get angry, so I should be better also."

Related items

  • Cameron Norrie sees off home favourite to reach Rio Open semi-finals Cameron Norrie sees off home favourite to reach Rio Open semi-finals

    Cameron Norrie sealed a semi-final spot at the Rio Open, continuing his title defence by seeing off Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild in front of his own fans.

    The British number one secured a 6-1 3-6 6-2 victory to head into the last four.

    Norrie lost just two games in a handsome win over Tomas Barrios Vera in the previous round and picked up exactly where he left off on the clay.

    He raced out of the traps, breaking Seyboth Wild’s second and third service games and holding his own to take the first set in little more than half-an-hour.

    The stands filled up considerably after a quiet start and Seyboth Wild fed off the growing support as he put together a much-improved showing to level the scores.

    With his opponent starting to grow in confidence and the noise levels rising, Norrie allowed errors to creep in with cracks in his first serve and a misjudged long forehand seeing him broken for the first time.

    Seyboth Wild was strong enough to make that breakthrough count and set up a deciding set but found Norrie back on his game as he tore into a 5-1 lead, breaking twice more along the way.

    Norrie missed his chance to finish things off at the first attempt, burning three match points as his South American opponent showed admirable resilience in a see-saw exchange of winners.

    But he soon stacked up three more match points against the serve and converted the second of them as Seyboth Wild’s unforced error ended his fight after just under two hours.

    “I was really proud of how hard I fought, it was so humid and tough physically,” he told Sky Sports.

    “It was a tough one and the atmosphere was great. These are exactly the kind of matches you want to play.”

  • Defending champion Cameron Norrie cruises into Rio Open quarter-finals Defending champion Cameron Norrie cruises into Rio Open quarter-finals

    Cameron Norrie remains on course to defend his Rio Open title after easing into the quarter-finals.

    The British number one won last year’s tournament in Brazil and his path to repeating his glory opened up earlier in the week when top seed Carlos Alcaraz withdrew because of injury.

    And he made light work of Chilean Tomas Barrios Vera on the clay, dropping just two games in a 6-1 6-1 victory.

    Barrios Vera, ranked 120 in the world, was no match for the Norrie, who overcame an early exchange of breaks to reel off four successive games and win the first set.

    Another run of four games on the spin was enough to get the job done with little fuss to set up a quarter-final meeting with Thiago Seyboth Wild.

    “I really played well and was accurate, I hit the lines and was able to control the games,” Norrie said on Sky Sports.

    “I enjoyed it, last night waiting around, it rained a lot and I had to come out and reset and I was able to do that so I was really pleased.

    “I am going to keep focusing on myself and my level and I want to make sure I take care of my matches like that.

    “It’s tough, it’s humid, there’s been a lot of rain and the clay is heavy. It’s not easy out here but I feel like I can play well when the matches go long.”

  • Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal

    Richard Krajicek believes it will hurt Carlos Alcaraz's career if he compares himself too much to Rafael Nadal.

    Alcaraz is being hailed as Spanish tennis' next big hope with Nadal nearing the end of a hugely decorated career, one that has seen him win 22 grand slam titles, two behind Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time list.

    Alcaraz himself has claimed two grand slams at the age of 20, winning the US Open in 2022 before following it up by claiming Wimbledon glory the following year.

    Despite the comparisons, Krajicek hopes Alcaraz doesn't think too much about comparing himself with his countryman Nadal.

    "If he starts to think about it or live up to it or try to beat it, then it will hinder his career, I think, a little bit," said Krajicek, speaking to Stats Perform at the Rotterdam Open. "But no, his name is Carlos Alcaraz. He said it himself. And he's not a new Nadal.

    "Nadal is a legend. And he's going to do what he has to do. And I think by winning two grand slams, being number one, I don't think he [Alcaraz] feels any pressure or like, I have to do this or this.

    "He's proved so much already. I don't think he has too much to prove. And he's just playing for the love of the game. He's going to win many more grand slams and be number one for many weeks also."

    Krajicek thinks Alcaraz's all-round game has the potential to take him to the top, if he hasn't reached it already.

    "I like everything about his game," Krajicek added. "I mean he's physically good, he's fast, I love his mentality on the court."

    "Also like Rafa, [he is] a very humble person and he can do it all. He can play serve and volley, he plays from the base, he's got a big forehand, he's got a very good touch on the drop shot, he can volley."

    Krajicek pointed to Alcaraz's affection for the sport of tennis as a particularly infectious part of his game.

    "He really loves the game," Krajicek continued. 

    "I think when he played the US Open, there was a huge point in the final and it was a really important point. And they were playing for number one in the world.

    "It was one set all, and Alcaraz loses the point, but the point was unbelievable. And Alcaraz smiles to his box like, 'Wow, I just played a great point, and I love this game'.

    "So for me, then I became a fan. I'm like, 'Wow, you really love this game'. That's so great to see."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.