Osaka withdraws from Western & Southern Open final

Disappointing end
Naomi Osaka. File photo: Reuters

New York: Japan's Naomi Osaka withdrew from her final against Victoria Azarenka in the Western & Southern Open at Flushing Meadows on Saturday because of a left hamstring injury.

"I'm sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury," Osaka said in a written statement. "I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second-set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.

"This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support."

The 22-year-old two-time Grand Slam winner defeated Belgium's Elise Mertens on Friday in their semifinal after she had initially said she would not compete in the match in a protest over racial injustice in the United States.

The former US Open champion has a Japanese mother and Haitian father and has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her decision came amid similar protests in the NBA and WNBA over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.

Osaka's injury means Belarusian Azarenka wins her first title since 2016.

The tournament was the final tune-up for the US Open, which starts on Monday.

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