Naomi Osaka missed her press conference after Sunday’s French Open match, as promised.
This did not mean that she avoided questioning her problems by succeeding with red clay.
Osaka returned to Roland Garros after missing the trip last time, turning into a 6-4, 7-6 (4) 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Patricia Maria Teague, ranked 63rd. place at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1 of the Grand Slam tournament.
After the French Open in 2020 was forced to start in September with a limit of 1,000 spectators per day due to the outbreak of coronavirus, things were closer to normal on Sunday: It was a sunny kiss in May and more than 5,000 fans allowed with a delay of only a week this year due to concerns about COVID-19.
Although he didn’t quite return to his pre-pandemic fullness, Roland Garros really took off with cheers and tennis.
Other results may be more important for the news – for example, the three consecutive loss of Angelique Kerber in the first round in Paris, for example – but the actions of Osaka, ranked number 2 after the match, are of interest.
This is because she said during the week that she would not participate in press conferences in Paris – and did not hold a pre-tournament session with the media. What remained unclear was whether she would participate in the informal exchange of pleasures with the “interviewers” on the field, who ask softball questions so that the spectators could hear something from the winners of the match.
As it turned out, Osaka continued the chat with former player Fabrice Santoro, who is hardly a journalist, and kindly offered to help Osaka by carrying the flowers given to her by the tournament.
Santoro actually brought up the subject of the event, noting that the Osaka Grand Slam titles appeared only on hard courts.
She has won the Australian Open twice, including this year, and the US Open twice, including last year. But she never passed the third round of the French Open.
“I’d say the work is in progress,” Osaka said of his clay game. “We hope that the more I play, the better.”
Osaka wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday that it would not participate in the standard back and forth movement with the media in Paris – something athletes in various sports do, of course. She described it as a mental health problem, saying it creates insecurity when you have to answer questions after a loss.
Grand Slam tournament players must attend press conferences if required; refusal is punishable by fines of up to $ 20,000, which is not a big deal for Osaka, the world’s most profitable athlete, thanks to approved deals worth tens of millions of dollars.
The organizers of the French Open did not immediately respond to email questions about the Osaka press conference and whether it will be fined.
“It’s her own choice. I think she is able to make her choice and obviously she will always do what is best for her, “Teague said. “I think it’s happening now. It’s her choice to do what she thinks is best for her.”
As for her impression of Osaka’s ability to play on clay, Teague offered this assessment: “If he wins, he will get used to it. It can play as well on clay as it does on hard courts. “
Osaka showed how Sunday: control points with his attacking game. She scored 31 of 35 points when her first serve came in and amassed 39 winners – more than twice as many as Teague’s 18.
Osaka then faced 102nd-ranked Anna Bogdan, who eliminated Italian qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1, 6-3.
The 26th-placed Kerber was defeated 6-2, 6-4 by Angelina Kalinina, a qualifier from Ukraine, ranked 139th and made her debut in the tournament.
Thus, Roland Garros remains the only Grand Slam title that Kerber has not won: She was champion of the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.
Also, the Australian Open semifinalist in 2019 and the French Open quarterfinalist in 2020 Daniel Collins defeated Van Xiu 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
In the men’s 12th place Pablo Careno Busta defeated Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, and the 27th placed Fabio Fognini broke a rocket on the road to eliminate the French entrance with a wild card Gregoire Barrere 6-4 , 6 -1, 6-4.