Daria Saville left gutted after ‘terrible’ incident against Naomi Osaka

Daria Saville has suffered a devastating injury just two games into her opening round clash with Naomi Osaka at the Japan Open.

Osaka ended a four-match losing streak in unfortunate circumstances on Tuesday night when Saville went down injured and was forced to retire hurt in just the second game of the match.

The Aussie star cried out in pain after playing a short forehand and collapsed to the court in distress while clutching her left knee.

She was able to walk off the court but did not risk continuing, shaking hands with Osaka after only 11 points.

Osaka showed her class when she ran around the net to offer assistance to Saville, before draping a towel over her injured knee.

Saville’s career has been blighted by injuries, including long-term knee and Achilles problems, and only recently returned to the top 100 this year.

Osaka has endured her own injury problems this year with Achilles and back issues, and the former World No.1 had not won a match since the beginning of August.

“I feel really bad right now because of how it ended,” the Japanese star told the fans at Ariake Coliseum.

“I’ve been injured for most of the year so I just want people to clap for her because she’s a really amazing player.”

Naomi Osaka looks on as Daria Saville gets medical assistance. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Naomi Osaka looks on as Daria Saville gets medical assistance. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Speaking in her post-match press conference, Osaka said she felt “really scared” after watching Saville collapse.

“I thought that she was just yelling because she thought her forehand was out, then I realised that she was yelling because she was in pain,” Osaka said.

“Then I got really scared because I felt like as athletes we have a pretty high pain tolerance. It seemed really bad.”

Osaka said she thought Saville was “going to be okay”, adding that she was “a fighter”.

Naomi Osaka, pictured here rushing to Daria Saville's aid after the Aussie's devastating knee injury.
Naomi Osaka rushed to Daria Saville’s aid after the Aussie’s devastating knee injury. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Osaka, who was on break point at 30-40 in the second game after holding her serve in the first game, will play Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round on Thursday.

“Right now, it still feels a bit weird that I just won a match – I feel like I didn’t win a match,” said Osaka, who had lost in the first round at her last three tournaments.

“I guess that I did and I’m progressing through the tournament. I’m not really thinking too much about the final right now.”

Saville later posted on Twitter: “I’m seriously in disbelief… what the actual f happened… I am not even sad I’m just shocked.”

Osaka is the defending champion at the Pan Pacific Open, although the tournament is being played for the first time since 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sofia Kenin’s struggles continue in Tokyo

Earlier, fellow Australian Ellen Perez was knocked out in the opening round after battling through qualifying to compete.

The 26-year-old from Shellharbour won more games than Xinyu Wang, but lost 7-5 1-6 6-4.

Seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova also advanced after a 6-2 6-1 win over Isabella Shinikova, while China’s Zhang Shuai beat Japanese wild-card entry Mai Hontama 6-0 6-3.

Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin’s struggles continued with a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 defeat at the hands of Mexico’s Fernanda Contreras Gomez.

The 23-year-old has seen her ranking plummet to 315 from a career high of No.4.

She has failed to win her first match in 10 of the 12 tournaments she has played in 2022 after coming off a year plagued by injuries.

Elise Mertens won the first three games against Qiang Wang before Typhoon Nanmadol forced play to be suspended for 45 minutes while the roof at Ariake Coliseum was closed.

The Belgian then won the next three when they resumed in a 6-0 6-3 victory.

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