ATP

'Nothing is perfect in this life' – Nadal says Osaka 'must be prepared' for hecklers

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Rafael Nadal sympathises with Naomi Osaka over the abuse she was subjected to at Indian Wells, but says athletes must be prepared to deal with it "as nothing is perfect in life".

Osaka was reduced to tears as she crashed out of the Indian Wells Open with a 6-0 6-4 third-round defeat to 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova on Saturday.

A member of the crowd could be heard shouting "Naomi, you suck" after the four-time grand slam champion had been broken in the first game of the match.

Osaka approached the chair umpire to report the incident and held further discussions with the court supervisor after being insulted again.

While accepting there is no place for such conduct, 21-time grand slam winner Nadal believes players should learn to cope with hostile environments.

"These kind of questions are tough to answer because, in some way, the easy answer for me is I feel terrible about what happened, that never should happen," he told reporters.

"The real thing, in the real world, that happens, you know? I feel very sorry for her. We are having, in my opinion, a great life. 

"We are very lucky people that we're able to enjoy amazing experiences because of our life, because we are tennis players. We make money.

"Even if is terrible to hear from that, we must be prepared for that. We need to resist these kind of issues that can happen when you are exposed to people. 

"At the same time, as we like a lot when the people are supporting, when something like this happens, we need to accept and move forward.

"I understand that probably Naomi, she suffered a lot with his probably kind of issues that she has, mental [health] issues. 

"The only thing that I wish for her is to recover well from that and wish her all the very best. But nothing is perfect in this life. We need to be ready for adversities."

Speaking shortly after the incident, an emotional Osaka said being targeted by the spectator reminded her of abuse the Williams sisters were subjected to at the same event.

Serena and Venus Williams were the victims of verbal abuse at the tournament in the Californian desert back in 2001.

The siblings' father, Richard Williams, claimed he had been racially abused at Indian Wells, while Venus Williams said she "heard whatever he heard".

Daniil Medvedev, who will concede his status as world number one back to Novak Djokovic from next week, said he can relate to how Osaka felt after recently hitting out at the "disrespectful" crowd at the Australian Open.

"I didn't see it with my own eyes, and I didn't watch the videos after, so I just heard it from someone who heard from someone, so I don't want to go too much into it," he said.

"It's tough for everybody because I can feel for Naomi. I mean, I felt not great in Australia. 

"You know they're [the players] getting millions. They should be ready for everything. At the same time, we're humans. We all make mistakes, good decisions. 

"Sometimes we feel bad. Sometimes we feel good. I can understand that Naomi didn't feel that great when she heard it and I can completely understand her feelings.

"Life would be easier if everybody would be calm and not angry but, even talking about me, I get angry, so I should be better also."

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