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    Saturday, August 29, 2020

    Western & Southern Open: Naomi Osaka Pulls Out of Final; Azarenka Claims Title

    Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open final due to a left hamstring injury, leaving Victoria Azarenka the tournament winner by walkover.

    The two-time Grand Slam champion was due to face the Belarusian former world No 1 in Saturday's showpiece of the pre-US Open tournament, which is being held at Flushing Meadows in New York.

    Japan's Osaka 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.

    "I'm sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury," Osaka said.

    "I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second-set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped."

    The 22-year-old had initially pulled out of her semi-final because "as a black woman I feel there are much more important matters at hand", before tournament organisers then suspended play on Thursday and Osaka's subsequent decision to opt to play.

    A number of sporting events in the US have been postponed 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.

    "This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support," added Osaka, whose fitness for next week's US Open is unclear.

    Azarenka, who knocked out British No 1 Johanna Konta in the semi-finals, claims her 21st WTA title and first since 2016.
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