Victoria Azarenka has claimed the Western & Southern Open by walkover as Naomi Osaka withdrew from the final game due to a left hamstring injury.
The two-time Grand Slam champion sustained the injury during the second-set tiebreak of her 6-2 7-6 (7-5) semi-final victory against Belgium’s 14th-seed Elise Mertens on Friday.
However, Osaka could not recover overnight to face the Belarusian former world No 1 in Saturday’s showpiece of the pre-US Open tournament, held at Flushing Meadows in New York.
Speaking on the incident, Osaka said: “I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury.
“I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second-set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped.”
Osaka had initially pulled out of her semi-final due to protests at the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man who was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Osaka had said: “as a black woman I feel there are much more important matters at hand” but later decided to play after tournament organizers suspended play on Thursday.
Speaking further on Saturday, she said: “This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.”
However, Osaka’s fitness for next week’s US Open is now unclear.
Meanwhile, Azarenka, who defeated British No 1 Johanna Konta in the semi-finals, claimed her 21st WTA title and first since 2016.
— Western & Southern Open (@CincyTennis) August 29, 2020