Knee injury puts Osaka's U.S. Open
title defense in doubt
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[August 17, 2019]
(Reuters) - World number one
Naomi Osaka will "probably" defend her U.S. Open title, even if it
means defying her doctor's orders, she said after retiring from the
Cincinnati Masters with a knee injury on Friday.
Osaka was trailing American Sofia Kenin in the third set of their
quarter-final in Cincinnati when she sought treatment on her
heavily-strapped left knee.
After briefly returning to play, the Japanese star retired with
Kenin leading 6-4 1-6 2-0.
Osaka's withdrawal comes after Serena Williams, the woman she beat
in a tumultuous final at Flushing Meadows last year, pulled out of
Cincinnati with back problems.
The injury has also loosened Osaka's grip on the top ranking, with
world number two Ash Barty poised to reclaim it if the Australian
makes the final.
"I really don't know what's going on with my leg right now," Osaka
"It sucks, especially since I didn't want to get injured this close
to the Open, and now I'm kind of worried a little bit.
"The thing is, my pain tolerance is really high, so that's usually
why I play through things that apparently I shouldn't."
Osaka said she "felt it wasn't safe" to continue against Kenin ahead
of the U.S. Open starting Monday week.
"I feel like this might have that one percent chance of me not being
able to play, and that's what's concerning me.
"In the end, I'm going to play even if the doctor says no,
Osaka's retirement sent Kenin through to face fellow American
Madison Keys in Saturday's semi-final.
Keys faced only two break points in beating Venus Williams 6-2 6-3
in the evening encounter.
[to top of second column]
Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts against Sofia Kenin (USA) during the
Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis
Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Barty will face Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other
semi-final after rallying to a 5-7 6-2 6-0 victory over Greek Maria
The Australian had surged to a 4-1 lead in the first set before she
stumbled with unforced errors, with Sakkari lifting to take control
through a slew of backhand winners.
Barty cleaned up her game in the second set, however, recovering the
backhand slice that had deserted her in the opener.
"It was important for me at the start of the second set to go back
to basics and what worked before," the 23-year-old Barty said.
"I had to serve well, and not give her too many looks at second
serves. I tried to bring in my slice to change the tempo of the
Kuznetsova outlasted Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6(2)
6-3, having been a set down with her opponent serving for the match.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina. Additional
reporting by Andrew Both and Rory Carroll. editing by Pritha Sarkar/
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