Victoria Azarenka backed into her first WTA in over four years taking the Cincinnati title for a second time after her opponent Naomi Osaka had to withdraw from the final due to a left hamstring injury.
Osaka sustained the injury yesterday in her semifinal victory over Elise Mertens.
“I’m sorry to have to withdraw today with an injury,” Osaka said. “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.”
Azarenka, who enjoyed her best week since her 2016 title in Miami, was disappointed Osaka couldn’t go.
“I think it’s unfortunate, because I was actually really looking forward to compete against Naomi,” Azarenka said. “ It would have been an amazing opportunity to face her level, and she’s been playing really great. I lost to her last time that we played, so I was really looking forward to that.
“And playing the final is always really special… I just have to accept what it is. I would have loved to have played, but, you know, I played five really good matches this week, and I think I deserve to be where I am today.”
Azarenka will be unseeded at the US Open but will move from No. 59 into the Top 30. She will open against Barbara Haas.
“I’m excited to go out there and play,” Azarenka said. “My confidence level, I don’t think it changed just based on the result that I won here. I felt pretty confident in my work that I have been doing.
“So the result is just confirmation that what I have been doing is right, but going on the court, I have been pretty confident in my abilities. It’s just putting those things together now. It shows that it’s the right work that I have been doing.”
Osaka will now have just over 48 hours to get her hamstring right before her Monday night match at the US Open.
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