Reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of a warm-up tournament for the opening Grand Slam of the year Saturday with an abdominal injury, casting a shadow over her preparations.
At the Melbourne Summer Set event this week, the Japanese superstar hit the court for the first time since her tearful early exit at the US Open, after which she took a long break to deal with personal issues.
She was due to play a semi-final against Russian Veronika Kudermetova in an evening clash at the Rod Laver Arena, but opted out.
"I had a lot of fun playing here in Melbourne. Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the Australian Open," Osaka said in a statement issued by Tennis Australia.
"Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took," Osaka added later on Twitter. "I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon!"
The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17.
Kudermetova on Sunday will face second-seeded Simona Halep, who beat Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal Saturday in the Summer Set 1 event.
Naomi Osaka in action. File photo
American Amanda Anisimova advanced to her first final since 2019 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Daria Kasatkina in the Summer Set 2 event at Rod Laver Arena. Anisimova will play either fellow American Ann Li or Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, who played their semifinal later Saturday.
In the semifinals of an ATP tournament at Melbourne Park, Rafael Nadal faced Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in a night match. The winner will play American Maxime Cressy, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (9).
At the Adelaide International, top-ranked and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty was scheduled to play her night semifinal against former French Open winner Iga Swiatek.
The winner will play Elena Rybakina, who beat Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-3 in the other Adelaide semifinal.
The Adelaide and Melbourne tournaments are among six tune-up events being staged in Australia this week ahead of the season-opening major at Melbourne Park.
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