Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Naomi Osaka hasn’t played since September after withdrawing during the second round in Tokyo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two-time champion Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will not play at the Australian Open, adding her name to a growing list of notable withdrawals.

Organizers confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that Japan’s Osaka, the Open champion in 2019 and 2021, will not be playing in Melbourne.

“Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open. We will miss her at #AO2023,” the tweet said.

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, returns the ball against Sara Sorribes Tormo, of Spain, during their match at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

The 25-year-old Osaka’s ranking has slipped to 47 and she hasn’t played since September after withdrawing during the second round in Tokyo. She won her first round match at that tournament when Australia’s Daria Saville withdrew after one game with a knee injury.

Osaka won only one completed match since May and was beaten in the first round of her three previous tournaments, including the US Open at which she also is a two-time champion.

Last week she posted pictures on social media of a trip to Europe with her United States boyfriend, rapper Cordae, and had been considered unlikely to play in the first Grand Slam of the season.

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska has been promoted to the main draw in her place.

Osaka took a mental health break after missing the 2021 French Open and later said she had been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years. Her absence from Melbourne adds to uncertainty over when or if she will resume her career.

The Australian Open which starts on Jan. 16 already has lost several leading players including men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz who pulled out Saturday with an ankle injury.

Former finalist Simona Halep also is not playing this year and Venus Williams also has handed back a wildcard entry after suffering an injury while practicing in Auckland.

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