PARIS – Naomi Osaka was fined $ 15,000 at the French Open for skipping a post-match news conference on Sunday – and all four Grand Slam tournaments are threatened with stiffer fines, including failure, if she continues to meet with the media.
The fine comes from Osaka’s prize money and was announced in a joint statement by the president of the French tennis federation, Gilles Moretton, and the heads of the other majors.
Osaka returned to Roland Garros after skipping the trip one last time and a 6–4, 7–6 (4) wrong victory over Patricia Maria Tig in 63rd place at Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 1 in Paris .
After the French Open began in 2020 with a limit of 1,000 spectators per day due to the coronavirus outbreak in September, things were closer to normal Sunday: it was a sunny coast May day and more than 5,000 fans was allowed.
Other results were perhaps more newsworthy than a straight victory by Osaka in second place – this is certainly the case for the US Open champion and two-time runner-up of the French Open, Dominic Thiem,’s 4-6, 5-7, 6– 3, 6–4, 6–4 lost to Pablo Andujar in 68th place, but the events that took place after the match of the Japanese superstar were of great importance.
This is because Osaka promised in a Twitter message on Wednesday and kept the promise Sunday to stay away from the standard back-and-forth with the media in Paris, the kind of thing that athletes in different sports take for granted. She described it as a mental health problem and said it created self-doubt to have to answer questions after a loss.
Players at Grand Slam tournaments must attend news conferences if requested; refusal is punishable by fines of up to $ 20,000. Of course, this is not a big deal for Osaka, the world’s merit athlete in the world, thanks to ratification contracts worth ten million annually.
“It’s her own choice. “I think she is able to make her own choices and of course she will always do what is best for her,” said Tig. “I think that’s what’s happening now. It is her choice to do what she feels is best for her. ‘
The statement from the Grand Slam tournament states that Osaka was ‘advised’ that ‘if she continued to ignore her media obligations during the tournament, she would expose herself to possible further consequences for violating the code of conduct.’
Referring to the rulebook, the statement noted that ‘stricter sanctions’ for ‘repeated offenses’ could include disqualification from the tournament and that it was the cause of a major offense investigation that could lead to greater fines and future Grand Slam suspensions. ”
Osaka’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP on Sunday.
However, all this does not mean that Osaka could completely escape any question about her problems on red clay. She did continue with the enjoyable exchange of pleasantries with ‘interviewers’ watching softball questions so that spectators could hear something about match winners.
In the conversation with former player Fabrice Santoro, who is hardly a journalist and is kindly offered to help Osaka by carrying the flowers she received through the tournament, the topic of the event actually arose.
Osaka’s Grand Slam titles have only appeared on hard tracks. She has won the Australian Open twice, including this year, and the US Open twice, also last year, but she has never finished the third round at the French Open.
“I would say it’s a work in progress,” Osaka said of her play on clay. “Hopefully the more I play, the better it will get.”
As for her impression of Osaka’s ability on clay, Tig offers the following assessment: ‘If she wins, she will get used to it. She can play just as well on clay as on hard courts. ”
Osaka showed how Sunday: points control with her attacking play. She scored 31 of 35 points when she landed her first serve and scored 39 winners – more than twice as many as the 18 from Tig.
Thiem has never lost in the first round in eight Roland Garros tournaments and made it to the final twice before taking on Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019 – who else? – lost.
Andujar, who beat Roger Federer on clay in Geneva this month, has never won a game before after dropping the first two sets.
Another former Grand Slam champion, three-time title winner and former no. 1 Angelique Kerber, was beaten 6–2, 6-4 by Anhelina Kalinina, a qualifier from Ukraine who took 139th place and made her debut in the tournament.
Roland Garros thus remains the only Grand Slam title Kerber has not won: she was the champion at the Australian Open and the US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.
By John Leicester and Andrew Dampf