Japan’s Naomi Osaka said she was “very scared” after watching opponent Daria Saville collapse with a knee injury just seven minutes into their match at the WTA tournament in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The Aussie was forced to retire early in this first round encounter after injuring her left knee when hitting a cross forehand in the second game of the first set.
The 55th player in the world shouted “my knee” before collapsing to the ground, suddenly a lot, and Osaka rushed to her side of the court to see the commentary was going to her opponent.
Saville, 28, formalized her retirement after several minutes of treatment and Osaka, who has struggled with injuries herself this year, said she felt “really sad” for her opponent.
“I thought she was just screaming because she had to have her forehand out, then I realized she was screaming because she was in pain,” continued the former world number one, who is looking to put end to his decline in form this week in Tokyo. “Then I got really scared because I feel like as athletes we have a pretty high pain tolerance. It feels really bad.”
Saville eventually got up and walked to her chair, but gave up after testing her knee with several footwork drills. Osaka said she assumed Saville was “going to pull through,” adding that she was “a fighter.”
The 24-year-old, who has fallen to 48th in the world, will face Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round on Thursday.
“Right now I still feel a bit weird winning a game. I feel like I haven’t won a game,” said Osaka, who has lost in the first round of her last three tournaments. .
The Japanese is the title holder in Tokyo, even if the previous edition dates back to 2019 due to the pandemic.