Without the media, Rafael Nadal said on Friday that “we wouldn’t be the athletes we are today” as Naomi Osaka became increasingly isolated over her decision to boycott all French Open press commitments. Japanese star Osaka caused a stir at Roland Garros by announcing that she would refuse to do any media activity at the tournament, claiming that she feared the impact on her mental health. The four-time winner believes traditional post-match investigations are like “kicking people when they stumble.”
Nadal, the 13-time French Open champion, said that while he respected Osaka’s decision, media coverage had propelled the sport’s success.
“I understand it, but for me without the press, without the people who write the news and the achievements we have around the world, we probably wouldn’t be the athletes we are today,” Nadal, 20, said. winner.
“We won’t get the recognition that we have around the world, we won’t have that popularity.”
Osaka, the world number two, is risking fines of up to $20,000 for missing press conferences at the French Open that begins on Sunday.
Ashleigh Barty, the 23-year-old’s closest competitor and 2019 French Open winner, said doing media duties was integral to the job.
“We know what we have in common as professional tennis players,” said the 25-year-old Australian.
“I can’t really comment on how Naomi feels or the decisions she makes. Sometimes press conferences are tough of course but it’s also not something that bothers me.
“I’ve never had any problems answering questions. It’s not something that bothered me too much.
“And it certainly doesn’t keep me up at night what I say or hear or what you guys ask me about.”
The president of the French Federation of Tennis (FFT) Gilles Moreton has criticized Osaka.
“It’s a huge mistake and it shows just how strong a referee is,” he said on Thursday.
“What is happening in my opinion is unacceptable. It is tennis that we want to promote.”
Defending champion Iga Swiatek, who is close to Osaka, said she was happy to speak to the press.
“This is important because not everyone is a professional athlete and not everyone knows what we’re dealing with on the court. It’s good to talk about that,” said the Pole, who turns 20 on Monday.
However, she also believes that it is necessary to have a support system to “separate you from hate or something”.
World number two Daniil Medvedev can be forgiven for his strained relationship with the media thanks to the French Open’s record four matches played, four lost.
“I always try to come to the press conference with a bad mood or a good mood,” the 25-year-old Russian said on Friday.
“And I feel that sometimes even in a bad mood I can be in a better mood after talking to you guys.”
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