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28 May, 2021 17:52

‘The media made us what we are’: Rafael Nadal slams Naomi Osaka’s refusal to take questions from the press during the French Open

‘The media made us what we are’: Rafael Nadal slams Naomi Osaka’s refusal to take questions from the press during the French Open

Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal says he doesn't understand Naomi Osaka's controversial decision to skip her media requirements throughout the French Open, speaking as criticism swells surrounding the Japanese player's stance.

Osaka revealed this week that she was opting out of her press duties for the duration of the French Open, telling members of the media at Roland Garros that she fears for her mental health when attending media calls, with the world number two saying that reporters have a tendency to "kick people when they are down".

Nadal, who is one of the most high-profile players in the history of the sport, has said that he sympathizes with Osaka's stance but that engagement with the press is a crucial cog in maintaining the sport's popularity.

"I understand her but for me, without the press, without the people who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today," said Nadal, a winner of 20 majors throughout his career.

"We won't have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular."

Osaka's unwillingness to attend press conferences could cost her a pretty penny too, with speculation abounding that she could be fined around $20,000 each time she skips news duties during the event, which begins on Sunday.

Ashleigh Barty, a rival of Osaka's and winner of the 2019 French Open, also hit out at her stance and said that Osaka knew what was required of her when she embarked on a career in professional tennis.

"We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players," said the Australian. "I can't really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.

"At times, press conferences are hard of course, but it's also not something that bothers me.

"I've never had problems answering questions. It's not something that's ever fazed me too much. And it certainly doesn't keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me."

Also on rt.com Tennis star Osaka accused of ‘grandstanding’ & ‘hypocrisy’ as she REFUSES to do interviews at French Open citing ‘mental health’

French Tennis Federation chief Gilles Moretton chose some harsher words when addressing Osaka's press reluctance.

"It is a phenomenal mistake and it shows to what extent it is necessary to have strong governance," he said.

"What is happening is not, in my opinion, acceptable. It is tennis we want to promote."

Also on rt.com Naomi Osaka’s refusal to take questions from the press is down to her arrogance, not her mental health issues