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Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Naomi Osaka a two-time Aussie Open champion has withdrawn from this year’s Australian Open just eight days before the start of the tournament.

Osaka, a winner in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021, has not played on the WTA Tour since September and has slipped to 42 in the world rankings.

No reason was given for the 25-year-old Japanese player’s withdrawal.

Organisers have promoted Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska to the main draw in her place.

A number of star names, including 42-year-old seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, and world number one men’s tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, now 19, have already withdrawn from the tournament which begins on January 16 in Melbourne.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka retired from her second-round match as she defended the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September.

She had been beaten in the first round of three tournaments including the US Open, prior to the Tokyo event. The Japanese tennis player also lost in the first round of the French Open last May and withdrew from Wimbledon because of an Achilles tendon injury and reached the third round at last year’s Australian Open.

In May 2021, Osaka pulled out of the French Open after revealing she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018, and in September of the same year she announced she would take a break from the sport.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas