As part of the WTA-1000, the women’s tennis tournament started on the 9th of March. This is one of the most crucial tennis tournaments and includes seven rounds with the participation of 96 athletes. The tournament has been held annually since 1971, gathering more than 5 million TV viewers. But in the 2021 season, it had to be postponed for more than six months, and in 2020 it was cancelled altogether. This year, the tournament is hosted in Indian Wells strictly on schedule. Naturally, tennis bets increase significantly during such large-scale events.
It is widely known that athletes take participation in such large-scale events seriously. Some pay their physical shape and emotional state more attention than usual: increase the intensity of the training sessions, change the tactics of the game and thoroughly study the weaknesses of future opponents. Others take a short break hoping to have time to recover before starting. However, few manage to start the competition for the winner’s title in the right shape.
This is what happened to former world No 1 tennis player Naomi Osaka. The 26-year-old Japanese tennis player has repeatedly attended competitions being in an unstable emotional state, which cannot but affect the results of her performances. In addition, even supportive fans do not approve of screams and tears on the court. After all, sport is for the persistent, isn’t it?
Naomi has achieved truly outstanding results in her professional career. However, when analysing her performances, the game’s instability becomes apparent. One day she gets into the top 10 best tennis players without much effort, and the next, she loses ground even in the most trivial duel.
Naomi began to play in the adult league in 2012, practically without participating in junior competitions. She has seven wins in singles WTA tournaments and 4 in Grand Slam tournaments. Osaka won Indian Wells in 2018. And since 2019, she has been recognised as the richest athlete in the world. In 2019, her income amounted to about 37 million dollars, and in 2020 – an impressive 53 million. It is noteworthy that the prize money for performances in tennis competitions varies between 2.3-2.7 million; the Japanese earned everything else thanks to lucrative advertising contracts.
Like most professional tennis players with a powerful serve, she prefers playing on a hard surface. Mainly, Osaka adheres to an aggressive style of play, which does not always allow her to correctly assess the situation and adapt to the opponent’s style.
The young athlete’s debut major tournament was the 2016 Australian Open, where Naomi successfully advanced to the third round. By April, the tennis player was already mentioned in the top 100 of the WTA rankings for the first time. In 2016, Naomi spent her May at the French Open and was able to get into the third round. The Japanese even won the “Rookie of the Year” award for her outstanding success in the professional field.
Naomi’s 2018 season was truly symbolic: after defeating Serena Williams at the US Open 2018, she became the first Japanese athlete to win a Grand Slam title. At that time, she firmly took the seventh line in the ranking of the best players.
At the beginning of 2019, Osaka managed to win Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open, which required a lot of effort. At that time, the Czech player was the Number one player in the world, so by beating her, Naomi Osaka received the championship in the tournament, but also the honorary title of the best tennis player.
Initially, Naomi did not plan to compete in Indian Wells. In 2021, her behaviour was unusual. The athlete categorically refused to communicate with the press on the evening before the Roland Garros without explaining the reason. Such an attitude towards the public is punishable by a large fine and even disqualification, but this did not affect the player’s decisions. Tennis is among the most emotional sports, and this needs to be considered when betting on sports.
The prevailing attitude towards the athlete was not friendly. Fans increasingly spoke about the arrogance and lack of professionalism of the Japanese tennis player. Naomi could not cope with this pressure and decided not to participate in the tournament. She withdrew from the competition after winning the first round. For the same reason, Naomi missed Wimbledon. At the Tokyo Winter Olympics, the athlete had the honour of lighting the fire at the opening ceremony. However, her performance at the Olympics itself was extremely unsuccessful: she only made it as far as the third round.
The points Osaka scored throughout the season were not enough to let her participate in the Indian Wells tournament. However, it became known that an Italian athlete, Camila Giorgi, would not participate at the last minute, and Naomi’s name became the last one on the list of the participants.
Naomi started the first round of the tournament with a match against an American player, Sloane Stephens. The athletes showed an excellent game, playing three sets with a score of 3:6, 6:1, 6:2 in favour of Osaka. But the second round went wrong from the very beginning. The opponent, a Russian player named Veronika Kudermetova, entered the game smoothly and quickly while the Japanese lagged behind. It was their first game: tennis players were supposed to meet on the court back in Melbourne, but Naomi withdrew from participation.
Osaka could not turn the situation in her favour and lost the advantage at the opening serve stage. The first set ended after 32 minutes with a score of 0:6 in favour of the Russian.
At the time of the side switch, one of the fans made a judgmental comment about Naomi’s capabilities. Immediately after that, Osaka lost control and burst into tears. She even asked the judge for a microphone to address the audience but could only do this after the game ended.
The second set went better, but the championship went to the Russian. Prior to the start of the competition in Indian Wells, Naomi was very convincing, talking about her full recovery and informing everyone that she had dealt with all her mental issues.