Azarenka Claims Western & Southern Open Title as Osaka Withdraws
Victoria Azarenka has claimed the 2020 Western & Southern Open women’s singles title via walkover, after Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal due to a hamstring injury early on Saturday morning.
“I felt my hamstring after my first match,” a disappointed Osaka told reporters on Saturday. “Normally it's because, you know, it's kind of tired and I get it - because I haven't played a match in, like, six, seven months. So for me that was normal. In the last match that I played I felt it more during the super long service game I had in the second set. Then it just slowly started getting worse and worse.”
Azarenka, who has been a resurgent force at this year’s Western & Southern Open, claims her 21st career title and her first since 2016. Now a two-time Cincinnati champion (also 2013), Azarenka entered this year’s draw having not won a match since her last appearance at Mason, Ohio in 2019.
The two-time major champion emerges as a contender for the title when next week’s US Open begins.
Azarenka dropped just one set in her five victories this week and claims her first title since giving birth to her son Leo in December of 2016. Her victory marks the biggest title won by a mother on the WTA Tour since Kim Clijsters triumphed at the 2011 Australian Open.
“I think it's unfortunate, because I was actually really looking forward to competing against Naomi,” Azarenka said. “It would have been an amazing opportunity to face her level, and she's been playing really great. I lost to her last time that we played, so I was really looking forward to that.”
Azarenka says she felt better with each passing round this week in New York, and is happy with her form heading into next week’s US Open.
“I felt that consistently I was raising my level when it was needed,” Azarenka said. “So I'm pretty happy with the progression that I have done in the week.”