Shenzhen, China: Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew from the season-ending WTA Finals with a shoulder problem on Tuesday, the second straight year she has been forced out due to injury.
Osaka, who retired during last year’s edition of the lucrative yearender with a hamstring injury, had been due to play world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty later on Tuesday.
“I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the Finals,” Osaka said. “It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year.”
“This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year,” she added.
Osaka had started the $14 million round-robin tournament with a tough three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday to extend her winning streak to 11 matches after titles in Beijing and Osaka. She had been determined to make amends for a disappointing WTA Finals debut last year, when her winless campaign ended with her retiring in tears due to a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, late entry Kiki Bertens, who replaced Osaka, stunned world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty with a comeback three-set victory.
The world No. 10 looked in deep trouble at a set and break down, but turned the tide with ruthless returning and aggressive play at the net to overwhelm a deflated Barty, who could have sealed a spot in the semi-finals with victory.
Bertens won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes in a see-saw match featuring 12 breaks of serve.
“In the beginning I did not play well but I think I got better and I tried to play aggressive and come to the net,” Bertens said.