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Osaka pulls out of Australian Open warm up

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Naomi Osaka pulled out of a warm-up tournament for the Australian Open yesterday, saying her “body got a shock” after playing her first matches for four months, opening the Melbourne Summer Set title door to Simona Halep.

Osaka, the reigning Australian Open champion, hit the court this week for the first time since her tearful early exit at the US Open, after which she took a long break to deal with personal matters.

In Melbourne, she played three matches in quick succession and they took a toll. She withdrew before the start of her semi-final on Rod Laver Arena against Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

“Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the #AusOpen,” the Japanese superstar and top seed said in a statement released by the Australian Open on Twitter.

Osaka added on her own Twitter feed that it had been a tough return and she didn’t want to push too hard with the opening Grand Slam of the year starting on January 17.

“Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took,” she said.

“Thank you for all the love this past week I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon.”

The four-time Grand Slam champion had beaten France’s 61st-ranked veteran Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in her first match back on Tuesday.

She then demolished Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska 6-1, 6-1 before blasting past Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 7-5 to make the semi-finals.

Her withdrawal sent Kudermetova into the final with a walkover where she will meet Halep, who crushed Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2.

Naomi Osaka plays during the match against Andrea Petkovic at a warm-up tournament ahead of the Australian Open. PHOTO: AP
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