Former Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out of the semi-finals of the Gipplsand Trophy ahead of the first grand slam of the year, which starts on Monday. The 23-year-old, who won in Melbourne in 2019, had advanced to the final four of the warm-up tournament by beating Romania’s Irina Begu in straight sets on Friday. “Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today,” Osaka said in a statement tweeted by the WTA. “I have a niggling injury and in light of the AO on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week.” "Sorry to Tennis Australia and the fans to have to withdraw today. I have a niggling injury and in light of the AO on the horizon, I need to be cautious. I look forward to competing next week." - Naomi Osaka Elise Mertens will advance to the Gippsland Trophy final. — wta (@WTA) February 5, 2021 Osaka’s semi-final opponent, Belgium’s Elise Mertens, gets a bye to the final. The three-time grand slam winner plays world No 39 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Australian Open first round. Osaka and Hamilton vow to carry on fight for social justice “My opponent today, she was really tricky for me,” Australian Open third seed Osaka said on-court after beating Begu on Friday. “I’ve never played her before, so just to be able to not have to play that 10-point tiebreaker, for me, I’m really relieved.” Elsewhere, Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the Grampians Trophy quarter-finals, the day after Serena Williams withdrew from the Yarra Valley Classic. . @naomiosaka takes the opening set, 7-5! #GippslandWTA pic.twitter.com/kEOQrAL0OI — wta (@WTA) February 5, 2021 The Australian Open runs from February 8 to 21.