Tennis news 2022: Naomi Osaka withdraws from Toronto opener with back pain
Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka retired from her opener at the WTA Toronto Masters with lower back pain on Wednesday AEST, raising injury concerns with the looming US Open.
Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi qualified when Osaka went down 7-6, 3-0.
Kanepi, a finalist last week in Washington, needed 71 minutes on the court as she was broken three times before the Japanese star quit.
The defeat brought the emotional Osaka to tears.
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“I felt my back from the start of the game and despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t do it today,” Osaka said.
“I want to pay tribute to Kaia for playing well and wish her all the best for the rest of the tournament.”
Osaka has played just six games with a 2-4 record since losing the Miami final in early April to world number one Iga Swiatek.
Kanepi, 37, won his only previous encounter five years ago in straight sets at the US Open.
“I tried to play my game and stay aggressive. It was a very tight game,” Kanepi said.
“I felt I needed a bit more time to get used to new things, but after that I felt comfortable.”
Meanwhile, defending US Open champion Emma Raducanu of Great Britain exited in the first round, losing 7-6, 6-2 to Italy’s Camila Giorgi.
Despite his hometown setback 19 years ago, Raducanu kept his spirits up as he approached his US Open title defense.
“It was a very good match, to be honest,” said Raducanu.
“The level was quite high, especially in the first set.
“Camila is a great opponent. She won this tournament last year. I just need to improve with players who probably play as fast as her.
Reigning Canadian WTA champion Giorgi won a combative first set and ran away with the second against the 19-year-old Englishwoman, whose title defense in New York begins in less than three weeks.
The feisty Italian was trailing by a break in both sets but showed her spirit by winning the last six matches of the competition.
Giorgi needed just over an hour and three quarters to advance to the second round against the ninth seed who broke into the top 10 in the standings less than a month ago.
Raducanu had to hold on in a wild opening set, where serve was broken in six of the twelve games played.
The Briton saved a set point in the 12th game to bring a tiebreaker but collapsed to drop seven straight points as Giorgi took the set after 71 minutes.
Raducanu was broken three times in the second set as Giorgi completed her win.