Naomi Osaka Opens Roland Garros Campaign with a Straight Sets Win, Angelique Kerber Ousted
(May 30, 2021) Naomi Osaka opened Day 1 of Roland Garros with a straight sets win over Romanian Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday 6-4, 7-6(4). The No. 2 ranked woman who represents Japan, caused some controversy before the tournament by announcing on her social media that she would not be doing news conferences during the French Open.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 26, 2021
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) May 27, 2021
She did however do an on-the-court interview after her win with former player Fabrice Santoro. Osaka, who has never gone beyond the third round in Paris, did talk about her game after the match: “I would say it’s a work in progress. Hopefully the more I play, the better I get.”
Osaka is seeking her fifth major title. She has a pair of U.S. Open crowns and a pair of Australian Open trophies.
The Grand Slam Tournaments issued the following statement on Osaka on Sunday issuing her a $15,000 fine and threatening to default her:
Naomi Osaka announced last Wednesday on social media that she would not participate in the mandatory media interviews at Roland-Garros 2021.
Following this announcement, the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site.
Following the lack of engagement by Naomi Osaka, the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issues. She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.
Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.
The mental health of players competing in our tournaments and on the Tours is of the utmost importance to the Grand Slams.
We individually and collectively have significant resources dedicated to player well-being. In order to continue to improve however, we need engagement from the players to understand their perspective and find ways to improve their experiences. Every year we seek to deliver better experiences to our fans, our players and our people, and we have a long and successful track record in achievement on this count.
A core element of the Grand Slam regulations is the responsibility of the players to engage with the media, whatever the result of their match, a responsibility which players take for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves. These interactions allow both the players and the media to share their perspective and for the players to tell their story. The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players.
We have advised Naomi Osaka that should she continue to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would be exposing herself to possible further Code of Conduct infringement consequences. As might be expected, repeat violations attract tougher sanctions including default from the tournament (Code of Conduct article III T.) and the trigger of a major offence investigation that could lead to more substantial fines and future Grand Slam suspensions (Code of Conduct article IV A.3.).
We want to underline that rules are in place to ensure all players are treated exactly the same, no matter their stature, beliefs or achievement. As a sport there is nothing more important than ensuring no player has an unfair advantage over another, which unfortunately is the case in this situation if one player refuses to dedicate time to participate in media commitments while the others all honour their commitments.
Finally, all Grand Slams remain committed to continually reviewing and discussing opportunities, together with the Tours and the players, to improve every aspect of the player experience, including with the media. But we consider this is only ever achieved through respectful and constructive discussions.
On behalf of:
Jayne Hrdlicka, Tennis Australia Chair & President
Gilles Moretton, FFT President
Ian Hewitt, AELTC Chairman
Mike McNulty, USTA Chairman of the Board & President
No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem lost a two sets to one lead, falling to No. 68 Pablo Andujar of Spain 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The 35-year-old Spaniard, who beat Roger in Geneva two weeks ago, claimed his first-ever Top 5 win over the Austrian.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2021
Before today, @AndujarPablo was…
• 0-24 when two-sets-to-love down in best-of-five matches
• 0-11 against top 5 opponents
— ITF (@ITFTennis) May 30, 2021
Three-time major winner No. 26 Angelique Kerber of Germany was the first seeded casualty on the women’s side of the draw when she fell to a qualifer making her Paris debut, ranked No. 139 in the world in Anhelina Kalinina, of the Ukraine, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round. The Ukrainian is on a 14-match win streak, which includes 10 wins on the ITF tour, 3 qualifying matches and her first main draw win.
American Danielle Collins is back on the court with a first round win. Collins was off the tour for a few months due to surgery due to endometriosis. She talked about it during her news conference:
Danielle Collins says she’s been shocked by how much better she has felt physically after undergoing surgery for endometriosis. Hopes to bring awareness to the disorder.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 30, 2021
More to follow…..