Sports

Rafael Nadal says the players should be ready for heckling after Naomi Osaka leaves


Rafael Nadal expressed his sympathy for Naomi Osaka on Monday after a tearful outing in Indian Wells, but he believes players should learn to deal with enemy fans. Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka burst into tears on Saturday as he was left out of the tournament in a defeat against Veronika Kudermetova. It was another uncomfortable time for Osaka, who turned his attention to mental health last year after revealing that he had suffered from depression. After a 7-5, 6-3 win over Dan Evans of England in the third round on Monday, Nadal said he felt sorry for Osaka as he made fun of “Naomi, the card” at the time he lost on Saturday.

However, the 21-time Grand Slam king said he believes players need to learn to be prepared for hostile environments.

Asked why athletes are experiencing negative feedback from people, Nadal replied: “These kinds of questions are hard to answer.

“The easy answer for me is ‘I’m so sorry for what happened, it should never have happened.'”

However, Nadal added that in the “real world”, audience abuse occurs.

“It’s horrible to hear that, but we have to be prepared for that, right?” he said.

“We have to deal with these issues in person, right?

“I understand that Naomi probably suffered a lot from these, probably the kind of problems she has, the mental (health) problems. The only thing I wish her well is to recover well and wish her the best.

“But life, nothing is perfect in this life, right? We need to be prepared for misfortune.”

Nadal’s remarks echoed the remarks of Scottish star Andy Murray, who was asked about Osaka after his solo outing on Sunday.

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“I feel like Naomi is obviously upset a lot, of course,” Murray said.

“But it’s always been something that has been part of the sport, I think, too. So I think you have to be prepared for that in some way and be able to endure it, because it happens regularly in every sport.”

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