Naomi Osaka fined $ 15,000 for skipping Roland-Garros press conference
PARIS – Naomi Osaka was fined $ 15,000 when she skipped the press conference after her first round victory at Roland Garros on Sunday – and drew a startling warning from the four Grand Slam tournaments that she could face tougher penalties, including disqualification or even suspension, if she continues to avoid the media.
Osaka returned to Roland Garros after being out of the tournament last year and clinched a 6-4, 7-6 (4) error-filled victory over 63rd Patricia Maria Tig at Court Philippe Chatrier on day one. social media, she did not speak to the press and kept that promise.
Hours later, Osaka turned to her favorite method of communication these days, tweeting, “Anger is a lack of understanding. change makes people uncomfortable. “
Other results were perhaps more interesting than a straight-set victory by Osaka, ranked No.2, US Open champion and two-time runner-up at Roland Garros, 4-6, 5-7, 6 -3, 6-4. A 6-4 loss to 68th Pablo Andujar comes to mind – but the events that unfolded after the Japanese superstar’s game were of great interest.
Tennis players are required to attend press conferences upon request. The maximum fine, of course, isn’t a big deal for Osaka, the world’s highest paid female athlete on endorsement deals totaling tens of millions of dollars.
She presented the problem as a mental health issue, saying that having to answer questions after a loss can create self-doubt.
“She’s able to make her own choices and obviously will always do what’s best for her,” Tig said. “I think that’s what’s happening now.”
Other players, including 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal and No.1-ranked Ash Barty, said they respect Osaka’s right to take a stand, but explained that they considered talking to reporters was part of the job.
The fine was assessed by the tournament referee at Roland Garros and announced in a joint statement by the President of the French Tennis Federation, Gilles Moretton, and his counterparts from other sports majors: Tennis Australia President Jayne Hrdlicka , All England Club President Ian Hewitt and American Tennis Association President Mike McNulty.
“A central element of the Grand Slam rules is the players’ responsibility to engage with the media, regardless of the outcome of their match, a responsibility that the players take on for the benefit of the sport, the fans and for themselves. “, they declared. “These interactions allow players and the media to share their perspective and for players to tell their story.”
They said they understood the importance of protecting the mental health of athletes, but also noted that “rules are in place to ensure that all players are treated exactly the same, regardless of their stature, beliefs or achievements. .
According to the statement, Osaka had been approached and asked to reconsider its position, but there was a “lack of commitment”.
Osaka, the Slam leadership group said, has been “informed” that “if it continued to ignore its media obligations during the tournament, it would expose itself to possible other consequences of violating the Code of Conduct.”
Citing the rule, the statement noted that “tougher penalties” for “repeated violations” could include a tournament failure and “the initiation of an investigation into a major infraction which could result in higher fines and future suspensions. of the Grand Slam. “
The Osaka agent did not respond to an emailed request for comment from the PA.
After his win, Osaka continued with the superficial exchange of banter with a Roland Garros “interviewer” on the field who throws softball questions so spectators can hear something from the athletes.
The subject of Osaka’s unrest on clay was raised during this discussion with former player Fabrice Santoro.
“I would say it’s a work in progress,” said Osaka, who won four Slam titles on hard courts but never made it past the third round at Roland Garros. “I hope the more I play, the better it will go.”
Unlike Osaka, Thiem has shown a lot of prowess on clay, never before losing in the first round in Paris and making it to the final twice before losing to – who else? – Nadal in 2018 and 2019.
Andujar, who beat Roger Federer on clay in Geneva this month, had never managed to come back to win after losing the first two sets for a game.
Two other former Grand Slam champions came out: Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in three sets, while Angelique Kerber was beaten in two by qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. Ukraine ranked 139th and making its French Open debut.
It was Kerber’s third straight outing in the first round in Paris; she won each of the other Slams once each.
With Thiem gone, there are no longer any major champions in the lower half of the men’s draw. There are four at the top: Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic – with 58 slam trophies combined – and Marin Cilic, with one.
One man who could take advantage of the fork’s lopsided nature is No.6 Alexander Zverev, Thiem’s finalist at Flushing Meadows last September. Zverev didn’t look set to fight for much on Sunday, however, needing a comeback on his own after two sets to overtake 152nd qualifier Oscar Otte 3-6, 3-6, 6- 2, 6-2, 6-0.
Zverev admitted that he entered the court on Sunday conscious – perhaps too aware – of the surprising loss of his good friend Thiem.
“You try to focus on yourself. You try not to be too careful. But you know the draw. You know who is where. You know Dominic is one of the best players on clay, especially here, one of the toughest opponents you can have. And then he came out, ”Zverev said.
“It affects you a bit,” he says. “Maybe that was part of the reason I was a little nervous at first.