There are serious questions over the career of Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the 2023 Australian Open.
The location of the two-time champion, who loves hard courts, has been a mystery to tournament organisers for weeks and they finally got the news they were dreading on Sunday.
The 25-year-old has not played since September, when she withdrew from her home tournament in Tokyo, which followed a first-round exit from the US Open.
“Just two years removed from her second title there (in Melbourne) — her fourth Slam title overall — the outlook for Naomi’s career is uncertain,” long-time tennis writer Ben Rothenberg said.
The Japanese was replaced in the main draw by Dayana Yastremska, who was infamously banned for doping before the 2021 event won by Osaka.
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In other tennis news…
The Australian Open is on the horizon but first the United Cup and Adelaide International will both draw to a close with finals to be played and winners to be crowned on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic had an injury scare on Saturday but has otherwise enjoyed an ideal lead-up to the Open, booking his spot in the Adelaide International final against Sebastian Korda.
The women’s final, meanwhile, sees second seed Aryna Sabalenka try to stop the stunning run of Czech teenager Linda Noskova.
Elsewhere, the United Cup final in Sydney is seeing Team USA and Italy match up for the inaugural title.
Italian Lorenzo Musetti retired hurt after the opening set of his match with Frances Tiafoe, losing it 6-2, putting his side down 2-0.
Earlier Australian Open dark horse Jessica Pegula eased past Martina Trevisan 6-4 6-2.
If either Taylor Fritz (vs Matteo Berrettini) or Madison Keys (vs Lucia Bronzetti) win their singles matches, as they would be favoured to do, the USA will win the tournament.
DJOKOVIC’S INJURY SCARE AS TEEN’S STUNNING SURGE CONTINUES
An intense Novak Djokovic brushed aside Daniil Medvedev on Saturday to set up an Adelaide International final against Sebastian Korda and played down injury concerns after appearing to tweak his hamstring.
The top seed, who has an ominous 22-1 record since September, was breathtaking at times as he cruised past the former world number one Russian 6-3, 6-4 in preparation for the Australian Open, where he is a nine-time champion.
In the women’s draw, unheralded Czech teenager Linda Noskova stunned world number two Ons Jabeur 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, with the qualifier into her first-ever final against second seed Aryna Sabalenka.
World number five Djokovic broke in both sets on Medvedev double-faults before lifting his intensity to storm home.
But he had a scare in the first set, clutching his left hamstring as he attempted to reach for a Medvedev cross-court forehand. He continued but then took a medical timeout.
“Thankfully nothing too serious, if it was I wouldn’t be able to continue,” he said.
“I just tried with some anti-inflammatories and it kind of settled in after a few games.
“I was just trying to keep the momentum going and don’t allow him to break my serve. The longer the match went my hamstring was warmer, I guess, and bothering me less.
“Hopefully for tomorrow it will be all fine,” he added.
Unseeded Korda, son of former world number two Petr Korda, was in charge 7-6 (7/5), 1-0 of his match when Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka called for a medical timeout for treatment in his upper right leg before pulling out of the match.
Elsewhere, 18-year-old Noskova had already upset two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka en route to the semis and carried that into her clash with Jabeur in only her sixth tour-level event.
“I don’t think either of us played 100 percent and I’m glad I got that last point to win, just really glad to play like this,” said the world number 102.
“I’m just going for it 100 percent all the time, just trying to push through.”
Jabeur had treatment on a lower back problem at 2-5 in the first set, but she bounced back to easily take the second before struggling in the third.
Sabalenka surged into the final by crushing Romanian veteran Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2.
Barty announces pregnancy on IG | 00:26
HISTORY TO BE MADE AS FIRST UNITED CUP WINNER CROWNED
Earlier, the attention will be on Ken Rosewall Arena as Team USA and Italy battle it out to become the first-ever winners of the United Cup.
Team USA got off to a perfect start as Jessica Pegula made a statement in a 6-4, 6-2 win over Martina Trevisan. The victory put Italy in an early 1-0 hole.
It means that Lorenzo Musetti will now likely need to win his match against Frances Tiafoe to keep Italy in the frame for victory in Sydney.
As for how Italy got to the final in the first place, Stefanos Tsitsipas battled from a set down to topple Matteo Berrettini Saturday but it was in vain as an unstoppable Lucia Bronzetti powered Italy into the decider against United States.
World number four Tsitsipas came through a do-or-die clash in Sydney 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to earn a crucial point for his country and boost his confidence ahead of the Australian Open.
But it wasn’t enough with Bronzetti pummelling Greece’s Valentini Grammatikopoulou 6-2, 6-3 in the following match to give Italy an unassailable 3-1 lead.
They meet the United States in Sunday’s final after the red-hot Americans swept past Poland 5-0.
Fritz sends Team USA to United Cup Final | 00:59
Italy went into day two of the semi-finals with a 2-0 advantage after a gutsy Martina Trevisan upset world number six Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5 in a gripping encounter on Friday.
Trevisan’s teammate Musetti then crushed Greek teenager Stefanos Sakellaridis 6-1, 6-1.
Meanwhile, a composed Taylor Fritz beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in a battle of top 10 players to power the United States into the final.
The world number nine was too good for his big-serving opponent, ranked one place behind him, winning 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5).
Fritz came into the match with the United States already 2-0 up after Pegula stunned world number one Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-2 on Friday and Tiafoe swept past Kacper Zuk 6-3, 6-3.
His victory gave them an insurmountable lead before Madison Keys made it 4-0 by beating Magda Linette 6-4, 6-2.
FULL ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL SCHEDULE
Not before 4pm
Linda Noskova vs Aryna Sabalenka
Not before 6pm
Novak Djokovic vs Sebastian Korda
FULL UNITED CUP SCHEDULE
Jessica Pegula (USA) def Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) def Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-2 RET
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Lucia Bronzetti (ITA)
Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Martina Trevisan (ITA) and Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
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