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Nadal, Barty on Osaka Muting Media in Paris


By Richard Pagliaro

Naomi Osaka is going silent mode for Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal respects the four-time Grand Slam champion's decision, but suggests players should understand part of their job is trying to deliver answers on and off court.

More: Osaka Will Not Talk to Press at RG

"I respect it. I respect her, of course, as an athlete and her personality," Nadal said when asked of Osaka's decision to opt out of mandatory press cnferences at Roland Garros. "I respect her decision. I don't know.

"I mean, we as sports people, I mean, we need to be ready to accept the questions and to try to produce an answer, no?"

Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Osaka, who has posted a 2-1 record on red clay this season, stunned many by announcing she will not do any mandatory press conferences in Paris and will happily pay the fines she incurs as a result.

“I’m writing this to say I’m not going to do any press during Roland-Garros,” Osaka wrote on social media. “I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”

While superstar players have skipped pressers in the past—and paid fines as a result—this is the first time in recent years a Grand Slam champion of Osaka's status is planning to forgo mandatory press conferences for an entire Slam.

It may make you wonder what if Osaka were to win her first French Open title and stand halfway to a single-season Grand Slam? Would she still sustain the silence?

While some players say their job responsibility is to solely prepare and focus on playing, world No. 1 Ash Barty disagrees.

The 2019 Roland Garros champion said sometimes pressers are tough, but doing press is a part of a pro player's job.


"I think in my opinion press is kind of part of the job," Barty said. "We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players.

"I can't really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes. At times press conference are hard of course but it's also not something that bothers me. I've never had problems answering questions or being completely honest with you guys."




Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who has conducted hundreds of press conferences in his career, said he believes the press provides a platform to help amplify the sport calling media "a very important part of our sport, too."

"I understand her, but in the other hand, for me, I mean, without the press, without the people who normally is traveling who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world probably we will not be the athletes that we are today," Nadal said. "We don't gonna have the recognition that we have around the world, and we will not be that popular, no?

"So I understand her. In the other hand, I have my point of view that the media is a very important part of our sport, too."

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who has faced some tough questions over his clay-court struggles and winless record at Roland Garros, said he respects Osaka's decision too.

Australian Open finalist Medvedev says social media trolls, particularly gamblers attacking players they bet on after losses, can be mentally malicious and a primary reason he's reduced his social media presence.

"Of course we know, for example, I don't win a lot on clay and I can get crazy," Medvedev said. "But I didn't have really one journalist, like, saying, Okay, you shouldn't do this or that, because that's when I'm going to get crazy, I'm going to say, You cannot tell this to me. I didn't experience that.

"There is a lot of hate of course on social media, especially tennis players, probably because of betting and stuff. So that's where I feel that's one of the parts, because I need to be honest, I don't use my social media as much, especially as soon as I became popular.

"But, yeah, again, talking about journalist, me, I have no problems. I try always to come to press conference bad mood or good mood. And I feel like even sometimes in the bad mood I can be in a better mood after talking to you guys."

Photo credit: Rafa Nadal Academy 

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