Defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka believes she could have better handled her decision not to participate in media conferences at the French Open.

Osaka withdrew from the French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

The four-time grand slam champion had confirmed before Roland Garros that she would not be taking part in post-match news conferences, suggesting her mental health was not helped by having to attend the mandatory interviews.

Osaka, the world number three, stated she has had "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open title.

The 23-year-old subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon, but returned as one of Japan's great hopes for the Tokyo Olympics.

However, she suffered a surprise defeat to Marketa Vondrousova, while her preparation for Flushing Meadows also took a hit with a last-16 loss to Jil Teichmann in Cincinnati earlier this month.

Reflecting on her decision in Paris, Osaka, who won her second US Open title in 2020, told reporters: "I feel there's a lot of things that I did wrong in that moment.

"But I'm also the type of person that's very in the moment.

"I think there's a lot of things that I learned to do better. Of course, I don't feel the same situation will happen again.

 

"Whatever I feel, I'll say it or do it. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.

"I would say, maybe think it through a bit more, in the way that I didn't know how big of a deal it would become."

A few days prior to her defeat to Teichmann, Osaka broke down in tears during her first news conference since she pulled out of Roland Garros.

Yet the Queens-raised star was more composed during her media duties on Friday, as she aims to cap off what has been a difficult 2021.

"I think the biggest memory that comes back to me is being a little kid, running around the entire site," said Osaka, who will take on Marie Bouzkova to get her title defence started.

"I don't know if that may be the reason why I play so well here, but there's definitely a lot of nostalgia.

"I know I haven't played that many matches. But actually I feel pretty happy with how I'm playing."

Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Andy Murray and Ash Barty will take on 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva in the first round of the US Open.

French Open runner-up Tsitsipas and 2012 champion Murray is one of the standout matches in the opening round at Flushing Meadows.

Top seed Novak Djokovic will start his quest for a calendar Grand Slam against a qualifier in New York and could face a repeat of the Wimbledon final versus Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

World number one Djokovic, a strong favourite for a record 21st major title with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent due to injury, could do battle with Alexander Zverev at the semi-final stage.

Daniil Medvedev, the second seed, is in the bottom half with Tsitsipas, who he could come up against in the semi-final. Medvedev's first test will come against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Barty could come up against Iga Swiatek in the last eight and Karolina Pliskova if she makes it through to the semi-finals.

Simona Halep's encounter with Camila Giorgi is a mouthwatering first-round match, while defending champion Naomi Osaka returns to grand slam action against former US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova.

Angelique Kerber could be a tough fourth round opponent for Osaka. Close friends Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens meet in another eye-catching first-round match.

There will be no Serena or Venus Williams at the final major of the year due to injuries.

Top seed Elina Svitolina had no trouble booking her spot in the Chicago Women's Open quarter-finals on the same day Venus Williams and Sofia Kenin pulled out of the US Open.

Svitolina made light work of Fiona Ferro on Wednesday, cruising to a 6-4 6-4 victory at the WTA 250 tournament.

The Ukrainian star and bronze medallist at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will face seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic in the quarters.

Marketa Vondrousova – the fifth seed, ninth seed Alize Cornet, Tereza Martincova and Rebecca Peterson also moved through from the round of 16.

At Tennis in the Land, second seed Anett Kontaveit secured a quarter-final berth by topping Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-3 in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Williams and Kenin withdrew from next week's US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Williams – a two-time US Open champion – will not compete in New York due to a persistent leg injury, joining sister Serena in sitting out the year's final grand slam.

"It's super, super, super disappointing," Williams said in a video via her Twitter and Instagram accounts. "I'm having some issues with my leg all this summer, and just couldn't work through it.

"I tried my best here in Chicago [at the WTA 250 Chicago Women's Open], but I just was unable to figure out the equation. And there's been so many times where I've been able to figure it out, even not in the best of my health, but this time, I just couldn't make any miracles work."

Kenin – the 2020 Australian Open champion – withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus.

"Fortunately I am vaccinated and thus my symptoms have been fairly mild," Kenin tweeted. "However I have continued to test positive and thus will not be able to compete at the US Open next week."

"I plan to spend the next several weeks getting healthy and preparing to play well this fall. Thank you all for supporting me. I want to wish all the players the best of luck in New York."

Patrick Mouratoglou says Serena Williams' "heartbreaking" withdrawal from the US Open was the "only possible decision" for the American.

Williams on Wednesday revealed she will not play in her home grand slam due to injury.

The 23-time major champion has not played on the WTA Tour since suffering a torn hamstring at Wimbledon in June and she has not fully recovered.

Mouratoglou, Williams' coach, stated that pulling out of the final slam of the year was the only option for the six-time US Open singles champion.

He tweeted: "Since she had to pull out from Wimbledon, @serenawilliams has been fully committed to her recovery and we've done everything we could so that she could compete at the @usopen. But her body isn't ready. It is heartbreaking, but this is the only possible decision."

Williams posted on Instagram earlier in the day: "After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring,

"New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play – I'll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone on from afar. Thank you for your continued support and love. I’ll see you soon."

Williams, who turns 40 next month, is the latest high-profile withdrawal from the tournament after Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pulled out through injury

It will be the first time since 1997 that the US Open will be played without Williams, Federer or Nadal.

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the US Open after failing to fully recover from a torn hamstring.

The 23-time grand slam champion, who won six of those titles at Flushing Meadows, has not played on the WTA Tour since sustaining the injury at Wimbledon in June.

She skipped last week's Western and Southern Open in the hope of being ready in time for the her home major in New York, but has now taken the decision to pull out of the event.

"After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring," Williams posted on her Instagram account on Wednesday.

"New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favourite places to play – I'll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone on from afar. Thank you for your continued support and love. I’ll see you soon."

Alexander Zverev believes world number one Novak Djokovic remains the favourite for the upcoming U.S. Open despite the German backing up his Olympic gold medal with victory in Cincinnati.

The German world number four defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Sunday to win the Western and Southern Open, claiming his fourth title of the ATP season.

The 2021 U.S. Open begins next Monday with Dominic Thiem, who defeated Zverev in the 2020 final, withdrawing from the men's draw along with superstar Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Their absences have opened up an opportunity for the in-form Zverev to have a run at the title but the German insisted Djokovic, who he defeated in the Olympic semi-finals, is the player to beat.

"I do think that he's still the favourite," Zverev told reporters after his win in Cincinnati.

"I do think he's going to be playing incredible tennis there. He's going to be fresh, and I think there is also other guys that are in very good form. I think Rublev is in very good form, [Daniil] Medvedev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, all those guys are playing great tennis.

"It's definitely going to be an interesting US Open. But I'm also looking forward to it, because I know where I stand, I know how I'm playing, and I hope I can continue the work and hopefully play even better in New York."

Djokovic has not played since Tokyo 2020, where he lost his bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta after his semi-final defeat to Zverev.

The Serbian world number one opted to withdraw from the mixed doubles' semi-final afterwards, citing a left shoulder injury.

"I think Novak will be back. He's obviously going to be the favourite but I think other guys are going to be in great shape,” Zverev said.

"I'm looking forward to the week. Let's see how it goes. But there is still one week to go. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to find my rhythm in New York, as well."

Zverev, who had never won a match in Cincinnati prior to this year's event, has not lost a match since his Wimbledon fourth-round exit to Felix Auger-Aliassime in July.

World number one Ash Barty says her Western and Southern Open title holds her in "good stead" ahead of the U.S. Open which starts at Flushing Meadows next Monday.

The Australian defeated unheralded Swiss Jil Teichmann in straight sets in Sunday's final in Cincinnati in the perfect preparation for the U.S. Open.

Barty has never gone further than the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and did not compete in last year's U.S. Open due to COVID-19 concerns.

The 2021 Wimbledon champion, who also won the 2019 French Open crown, looms as a strong favourite for the women's singles title although she is typically refusing to get carried away.

"I think we're just excited that we've got matches under our belt in tough conditions here in Cincy, and that's put us in really good stead going into New York," Barty said.

"This week it was completely 'non-result-focused'. It was about preparing in the best way possible, knowing that we wanted to be ready for New York in a couple of weeks' time.

"Now that we've only got a week in between, we have played plenty of matches, and now it's about kind of refining as best we can to hopefully be feeling good come the first round in New York and just try and do the best that we can there."

On her favouritism, she added: "There are no certainties in sport, no certainties in tennis. It's just about playing each and every day as best you can as they come, and not focusing or concerning yourself or your self-worth with results."

Riding the wave of her Wimbledon triumph, Barty crashed out of the women's singles in the first round at Tokyo 2020 to Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo last month.

The Australian remained grounded after her Cincinnati victory and insisted preparations for the U.S. Open would stay normal.

"I think sometimes after big wins - and I felt it both times after the French Open and after Wimbledon - there's been a little bit of a big crash, more emotionally than anything else, because there's so much invested into that event," Barty said.

She added: "Our practice weeks before grand slams are quite normal. There is nothing fancy, no extra emphasis on anything.

"It's just gauged by how I'm feeling physically, how I'm feeling mentally, and we have had a lot of practice now as a team in being able to read each other and what we think is required.

"Then it's about going out there for the first round, whether it's the Monday or Tuesday, and try to do the best that I can. That's all I can ask of myself."

The draw for the U.S. Open will be revealed on Friday with Barty going in as the top women's seed, with Aryna Sabalenka second seed and reigning champion Naomi Osaka third.

Rafael Nadal has curtailed his 2021 ATP Tour season due to a long-term foot injury but insists he is working towards a return.

Nadal, 35, has played only twice since losing the French Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic in May.

The Spaniard skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics and had withdrawn from this week's Western and Southern Open before the US Open.

Nadal will not now compete in the final major of the season either, while great rival Roger Federer is also out for an extended period.

It clears a path for Novak Djokovic – the third man tied on 20 grand slam titles – to win a record-breaking 21st championship at Flushing Meadows while completing a remarkable calendar Grand Slam.

Djokovic could yet have competition again in the years to come, though, as Nadal is not yet calling time on a glittering career.

In making his latest announcement on social media on Friday, Nadal revealed he has been dealing with his injury since 2005 but has not let it halt him yet.

"Hello everyone," he wrote on his Twitter page. "I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season.

"Honestly, I've been suffering a lot more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time.

"After having discussed it with the team and family, this decision has been made and I think it is the way forward to try to recover and recover well.

"It's a year that I've missed things that matter a lot to me, like Wimbledon, like the Olympics, how the US Open is going to be now, like many other events that are also important to me.

"And in view of the fact that during this last year I have not had the ability to train and prepare and compete in the way that I really like to do it, in the end, I come to the conclusion that what I need is time to recover, change a series of things, try to understand what has been the evolution of my foot in recent times.

"It is not a new injury, it is an injury that I have had since 2005 and it has not prevented me from developing my sports career during all these years.

"If it is true that I have had a season where things are not going as they should, as we would all like, it is time to make decisions, seek a slightly different type of treatment to find a solution to this problem or at least improve it in order to continue to have options for the next few years.

"I have the maximum enthusiasm and predisposition to do whatever it takes to recover the best possible form to keep competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I've done all these years.

"I am convinced that with the recovery of the foot, and obviously a very important daily effort, this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen.

"Thank you in advance for all the support, understanding and all your expressions of affection that are very important and more in difficult times like these.

"I promise you what I am going to do is work hard to try to continue enjoying this sport for a while longer. A big hug to all."

Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams has been given a wildcard entry to participate in this year's tournament.

The 41-year-old American will be making her 23rd appearance at Flushing Meadows and a 15th in a row.

Williams, who has not missed a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2013, is one of eight wild card selections for the women's singles draw.

Former semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe and Emma Navarro are joined by teenagers Hailey Baptiste, Ashlyn Krueger, Caty McNally and Katie Volynets.

Storm Sanders has been awarded a reciprocal wild card in agreement with Tennis Australia.

Naomi Osaka will be looking to defend her title in New York, with the main draw scheduled to run from August 30 to September 11.

Defending US Open champion Dominic Thiem will miss this year's tournament with a wrist injury that will rule him out until 2022.

The 27-year-old suffered the setback at the Mallorca Open in June and also withdrew from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.

World number six Thiem won his maiden grand slam at Flushing Meadows last year with victory over Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller, but he will not get the chance to defend his title in New York.

"Having spent a week training on court, I still felt pain in my wrist and I knew that it was not 100 per cent," Thiem posted in a statement on his Twitter page on Wednesday.

"I went to see my doctors again and we have decided to follow a conservative treatment, giving the injury more time to recover.

"I'm very disappointed not to be able to defend my US Open title and to miss the rest of the season.

"But I know this is what I have to do. I have a long career ahead of me, so I will only come back once I'm fully recovered and in good shape to compete."

Thiem has a record of nine wins and nine losses this season, with his best result coming at the Madrid Open in May when reaching the semi-finals.

Twenty-time grand slam winner Roger Federer last week pulled out of the US Open, which runs from August 30 until September 12, after undergoing knee surgery.

Roger Federer will not take part in the upcoming US Open after the 20-time grand slam winner announced he is to undergo knee surgery that will rule him out for "many months".

The 40-year-old has not been in action since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in a Wimbledon quarter-final in July and has completed only five events this year.

Federer underwent two operations on his right knee in 2020 and requires another procedure that the legendary Swiss hopes will give him a chance to return to the court.

"I just wanted to give you a bit of an update on what's been going on since Wimbledon," Federer, who won the most recent of his five titles at Flushing Meadows in 2008, posted in a video message on his Instagram page on Sunday.

"As you can imagine, it's not been simple. I've been doing a lot of checks with the doctors as well on my knee, getting all the information as I hurt myself further during the grass-court season and Wimbledon.

"That's just not the way to go forward, so unfortunately they told me for the medium to long term to feel better, I will need surgery. I decided to do it.

"I'll be on crutches for many weeks and also out of the game for many months, so it's going to be difficult of course in some ways.

"But at the same time I know it's the right thing to do because I want to be healthy, I want to be running around later as well again and I want to give myself a glimmer of hope to return to the tour in some shape or form."

 

Federer, now ranked number nine in the world, missed more than a year of action after first having his knee operated on shortly after the 2020 Australian Open.

"I am realistic, don't get me wrong," he said. "I know how difficult it is at this age right now to do another surgery and try it. 

"But I want to be healthy, I will go through the rehab process I think also with a goal while I'm still active, which I think is going to help me during this long period of time."

Federer added: "Also a big thank you already now for all of your messages that are going to be coming in because you guys are always incredible. 

"You always think of me. Some of you suffer with me. I'll update you as I move along with my rehab. I wish you all the best and I'll check in with you soon."

The US Open in New York begins on August 30, with Dominic Thiem looking to retain his title.

Roger Federer "is a little uncertain" when he will be back in action just over a fortnight before the US Open gets under way.

The 20-time grand slam winner withdrew from both the Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters this month as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

Federer has not played since losing to Hubert Hurkacz.in a Wimbledon quarter-final in July and has completed only five events this year.

The legendary Swiss, who underwent two operations on his right knee last year, is unsure if he will feature at Flushing Meadows.

He told Swiss newspaper Blick: "I haven't done anything for a long time because of my knee. After Wimbledon, I had to let everything sink in first.

"This week I'll meet my doctors and my team and then we'll see what happens next. At the moment everything is still a little uncertain."

Federer, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Sunday, remains upbeat despite such uncertainty.

 

He said: "You have to adapt. It has always been like this in my career. Factors change: degree of awareness, successes, experiences, identity and now just that.

"I'm a quiet guy who takes things with a sense of humour. I always see the good in every situation. If it's not good right now, I know it will get better and it could be a lot worse.

"I am doing very well. My family is healthy. I just turned 40 and I'm still active. Who would have thought it? Certainly not me. I am totally at peace with myself and I am sure that there will be a lot more beautiful things to come."

Novak Djokovic drew level with Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major singles titles by winning Wimbledon and the world number one will be bidding to complete a calendar Grand Slam in New York.

Novak Djokovic will not play at the Western and Southern Open after a "taxing" run that has brought him to the brink of a calendar Grand Slam.

The world number one's bid for a Golden Slam faltered at the Olympic Games as he lost to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals in Tokyo.

Djokovic appeared to tire badly and finished fourth in both the men's singles event and the mixed doubles, opting out of the bronze medal match in the latter.

But victories at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon mean 2021 is still on course to be the best year of Djokovic's career.

And the Serbian is taking a little time to prepare himself for the final push at Flushing Meadows, meaning no appearance in Cincinnati next week.

"Dear fans," he wrote on Twitter. "I wanted to share with you that I am taking a bit longer to recover and recuperate after quite a taxing journey from Australia to Tokyo.

"Sadly, that means I won’t be ready to compete in Cincinnati this year, so I'll turn my focus and attention to the US Open and spend some more time with family.

"See you in New York soon!"

Former world number one Andy Murray has been handed a place in the main draw of the US Open after Stanislas Wawrinka pulled out.

Murray, the 2012 champion at Flushing Meadows, reached the second round of the event last year, which was won by Dominic Thiem.

The 34-year-old, who competed in the men's doubles at the Tokyo Olympics, has only played eight Tour-level matches in 2021. He was handed a wildcard for Wimbledon, where he lost in the third round to Denis Shapovalov.

Novak Djokovic is due to lead a strong men's field for the tournament in August, which will be played in front of capacity crowds.

The world number one is seeking to become the first man to win all four major championships in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are tied with Djokovic on 20 grand slam singles titles, are also set to play.

Wawrinka, himself a champion in New York in 2016, is still recovering from his second foot surgery of the year.

Roger Federer turned 40 on Sunday amid uncertainty over whether he will grace the stage of a grand slam again.

Both he and Serena Williams, who reaches the same birthday landmark in September, have kept their future plans under wraps.

However, it would come as no surprise now if one, or both, were to retire by the end of the year.

Injuries are taking their toll, and even the greatest champions cannot go on forever.

Stats Perform looked at both Federer and Williams, considering what they may still want to achieve, and their prospects of attaining those remaining goals.

 

Federer's final fling?

Ahead of his 30th birthday, Federer was asked what it felt like to hit such a milestone.

"Birthdays happen. They're part of life," Federer said. "I'm happy I'm getting older. I'd rather be 30 than 20, to be honest. To me it's a nice time."

A decade on, Federer has good reason to be satisfied with life as he chalks up another decade. Family life is good, he'll never need to borrow a dollar, and he has advanced from 16 grand slams to 20.

But the knees would sooner be 30 than 40, and Federer, remarkable sportsman though he is, looks to have entered the lap of honour stage of his career – if he can even complete such a lap.

Two knee operations in 2020 were followed by a setback that ruled him out of the Olympics and will also keep him sidelined for the Toronto and Cincinnati tournaments before the US Open.

Will Federer make it to Flushing Meadows, where he won five successive titles at the height of his career? There has to be doubt over that, and should he indeed be an absentee in New York, what is there left to target? The Laver Cup, perhaps, a tournament in which he is financially invested and which is due to be played in Boston in late September.

Would he play on in 2022? Could he tolerate more long road trips without his family, living in a tennis bubble?

Target: Federer has never settled for second best, and it may have dawned on him at Wimbledon that in all probability he no longer can win a grand slam. Losing a 6-0 set to Hubert Hurkacz on the way to a quarter-final exit would have hurt. The hunger does not go away after 20 grand slams, but Federer's battle-weary body is sending him messages. He will want to go out on his own terms, which means getting fully fit.

Prospects: Assuming the knee issue is not a major problem, and more of a niggle, then Federer could still play the US Open, Laver Cup, Indian Wells and Paris Masters this year. If the mind is willing but the body does not comply, however, then it would not be a shock to see him call time before the Australian Open comes around in January.


Serena still one short of Court

From precocious teenager to queen of the tour, Williams' tennis journey has been a 25-year odyssey and there is nobody more driven to succeed than the great American.

It is an intense frustration that she remains rooted on 23 grand slams, one short of Margaret Court's record haul, and the four grand slam final losses she has suffered while on that mark have been cruel blows.

As her 40th birthday approaches on September 26, prospects of matching Court are fading. The leg injury that cruelly forced her out of Wimbledon in the first round was a harrowing turn of events, given she looked primed to be a big title challenger in London.

She is becoming less of a factor when looking at title favourites, but Williams is still capable of beating top players, still a threat wherever she shows up. It comes down to whether the body lets her chase her goals, and whether the pain of so many near-misses in recent years persuades this great champion the exertion is no longer worth prolonging.

Target: The 24th slam has been the must-have for Williams. Tour titles feel like an irrelevance, and Williams has won just one of those since January 2017, her calendar built around peaking for the majors since returning from giving birth to daughter Olympia.

Prospects: Beating Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep at the Australian Open demonstrated Williams still has the game for the big stage, and a semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka, to whom she has now lost in three of four encounters, should not particularly detract from that. Wimbledon felt like a golden opportunity, with a host of major rivals absent and others struggling for form. There is no doubt she felt that way. Getting to 24 – and beyond – has shifted from feeling like an inevitability to being an odds-against chance now.

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