Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka has pulled out of the WTA Rome due to an ankle injury.
She was due to take on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in the opening round of the Italian Open - just over a week after the same opponent knocked her out of the Madrid Open.
Osaka says her decision not to play has been made with one eye on the French Open - which gets underway in Paris later this month.
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"Unfortunately I’m going to have to withdraw from Rome as the injury which I picked up last week in Madrid hasn’t healed yet,” Osaka announced in a statement.
"It’s an Achilles injury so I need to be careful especially in advance of Roland Garros,” she added.
Osaka - who recently said her happiness is more important than winning tennis matches - began suffering from the complaint during her opening round victory against Anastasia Potapova in the Spanish capital, before continuing to struggle as she crashed out against Tormo.
The 24-year-old has not had the best of luck at the Italian Open, after having to withdraw from the competition at the quarter-final stage in 2019 with a hand injury.
However, Osaka admits she is gutted to be missing out, saying, "I love this city and always enjoy playing in front of the Italian fans so I will be sorry to miss them - but look forward to coming back next year.”
Lucky loser Nuria Parrizas Diaz will take Osaka’s place in the tournament, and the winner of her opener with Tormo could face Emma Raducanu next.
The British No. 1 - who says she feels like a "loner” as she continues to train without a full-time coach - starts her campaign against Bianca Andreescu.
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