French Open: Osaka hints at skipping Wimbledon after British grand slam is stripped of ranking points

By Sports Desk May 23, 2022

Naomi Osaka has become the first high-profile player to suggest they might miss Wimbledon after the grand slam was stripped of ranking points.

The WTA and ATP announced last week that they had stripped Wimbledon of ranking points after the All England Club decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the season's third major.

That decision came in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which was aided by Belarus.

Osaka made her return to the French Open on Monday - the former world number one withdrew from last year's tournament at Roland Garros citing mental health issues amid intense media scrutiny and having been fined for skipping press duties.

However, her return was short-lived as she suffered a 7-5 6-4 defeat to Amanda Anisimova in her first-round match.

Three-time grand slam champion Osaka, now ranked at 38 in the world, has ambitions to return to the top of the WTA rankings - and also said her dream match would be at Wimbledon. 

But, with other events around Wimbledon offering ranking points, Osaka is considering skipping the tournament.

"I'm not sure why, but I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it's more like an exhibition," she told a news conference.

"I know this isn't true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think something is like an exhibition, I just can't go at it 100 per cent.

"I didn't even make my decision yet, but I'm leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances, but, you know, that might change.

"I do want to rack up more experience on the grass, and I know that the Berlin tournament is giving out points, so that would be a really good opportunity for me.

"Yeah, I think if I don't end up playing on grass this year, I really want to go hard on the hard-court swing, which is my favourite.

"I'm going to have to have some meetings about it."

One-time Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille became the first player to confirm he would boycott Wimbledon after the points penalty was announced.

Reflecting on her defeat at Roland Garros, Osaka said an ongoing Achilles issue had hindered her performance, though she is happy with how she played compared to the last time she faced Anisimova, in this year's Australian Open.

"I took a painkiller before my match, so I don't know. I still kind of felt it a little, which I'm going to see what happens when it wears off," Osaka said of her injury. 

"I kind of prepared myself to feel it, so that wasn't really the wearing part. It was just annoying to me because the last time I played her our serves were really important. And coming into this tournament I didn't serve a lot, because we wanted to wait until the last minute to protect my Achilles.

"So it is a bit disappointing, but I'm happy with how my attitude was, because the last match that we played in Australia I think I was getting a bit more upset with myself, so I think I progressed in that part."

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