image

Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Naomi Osaka pulls out of Hong Kong Open with back injury sustained in Beijing

US Open champion will still travel to Hong Kong to meet fans at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium after playing through the pain at China Open

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 11:54am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 10:09pm

Naomi Osaka has pulled out of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open with a back injury, in what will be a huge blow to organisers.

The US Open champion was set to be the star name at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium next week, but has withdrawn from the field after hurting her lower back before her first match at the China Open in Beijing.

The 20-year-old from Japan played with the injury throughout the week but called for treatment during her 6-4, 6-4 semi-final defeat by Anastasija Sevastova at the National Tennis Centre, raising fears she might not be able to compete in Hong Kong.

And with her debut WTA Finals coming up later this month, Osaka has taken the necessary precautions to ensure she is in top shape for Singapore. But despite the injury, the world number six will still travel to Hong Kong to meet local fans at the tournament.

“I am really disappointed not to be able to compete at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open this year,” Osaka said.

“I really enjoyed playing in Hong Kong last year and was looking forward to stepping onto court at Victoria Park again.

“Unfortunately, I have been playing through pain in my back this whole week and the doctors have advised me that I need to rest to ensure the injury is not further aggravated and become more serious.

“However I am really excited to be coming to Hong Kong to engage with the fans and visit one of my favourite cities, and hope to be back playing at PHKTO in 2019.”

Osaka had taken her fine form from New York to Asia, reaching the final of her home tournament at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo before skipping Wuhan and making the last four in Beijing.

She had been one of the early favourites in Hong Kong, but now world number five Elina Svitolina will be fancied.

“While we were looking forward to seeing Naomi compete this year, she needs to put her health first and we are very pleased she will still be attending the event, despite her injury, and giving local fans the chance to meet her in person,” tournament director and Hong Kong Tennis Association CEO Chris Lai said.

“And at only 20 years old, we look forward to seeing her in Hong Kong for many years to come.”

Osaka’s absence leaves a hole in terms of star power, but organisers were given a boost on Friday when they announced two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza for the field.

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and China’s top two players, Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai, will also be in action.

“The depth of the draw for this year’s tournament is fantastic, and tennis fans will be spoilt for choice,” Lai said.

The Hong Kong Open runs from today to October 14, with organisers announcing the WTA International Series tournament is upgraded to a US$750,000 event for the first time.