NEW YORK-Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew from her final against Victoria Azarenka in the Western & Southern Open at Flushing Meadows on Saturday because of a left hamstring injury.

“I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury,” Osaka said in a written statement. “I pulled my left hamstring yesterday in the second-set tiebreak and it has not recovered overnight as I had hoped. “This has been an emotional week and I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support.”

The 22-year-old two-time Grand Slam winner defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens on Friday in their semi-final after she had initially said she would not compete in the match in a protest over racial injustice in the United States. The former U.S. Open champion has a Japanese mother and Haitian father and has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Her decision came amid similar protests in the NBA and WNBA over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday. Osaka’s injury means Belarusian Azarenka wins her first title since 2016. The tournament was the final tune-up for the U.S. Open, which starts on Monday.

DJOKOVIC EDGES BAUTISTA TO SET UP FINAL WITH RAONIC

World number one Novak Djokovic overcame a sore neck and an early scare to defeat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6 6-4 7-6(0) in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday, setting up a showpiece match against Canadian Milos Raonic.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner fired off 14 aces to keep his 2020 unbeaten streak alive, extending his record to 22-0 with his latest victory at Flushing Meadows, which is temporary host to the fanless tournament amid the new coronavirus outbreak. Djokovic, who has been struggling with a neck injury and received assistance from a tournament physio in the second set, held on to prevail in the third set as his opponent forced the match into a tiebreak.

He will next take on Raonic, who harnessed his monster serve to upset Greek world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5) 6-3 in their semi-final clash, launching 12 aces and winning 90% of his first serves to earn a spot in his 22nd final. The Canadian faces long odds to beat Djokovic, who has triumphed in all 10 of their previous meetings.