Media-phobe Naomi Osaka was forced by circumstance to speak briefly on court after defeating Patricia Tig 6-4, 7-6(4) on Sunday in her opening match at the French Open.
Japan’s world No. 2 vowed this week not to address media in the obligatory post-match conference on the interests of her “mental health.”
The unheard-of decision drew fire from even her tennis colleagues, most of whom see media duties as part of a well-paid sporting existence which includes responsibilities off the court.
Osaka took several questions on court from emcee Patrice Santoro, providing banal and generic answers to the most basic queries.
The world No. 2 who has never been past the third round at Roland Garros, almost found herself facing a third set against her 63rd-ranked Romanian opponent, facing a Top 10 player for the first time.
A perfect lob from Tig produced a second-set tiebreaker, where Osaka lost a 5-2 lead before pulling out the win into the second round on French Mother’s Day.
“Hello to all the mothers out there,” the painfully shy former No. 1 said, before adding: “My clay game is a work in progress, hopefully it will get better.”
Should she go ahead and avoid the post-match presser, Osaka faces a fine of USD 20,000 a mere pittance to the multi-millionaire player.