Trailing Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 7-6(4) 3-0, the four-time Grand Slam champion was treated on the pitch but eventually retired and left the pitch in tears.
“I felt my back from the start of the match, and despite my best efforts to achieve it, I just couldn’t do it today,” Osaka said afterwards, according to the WTA.
“I want to pay tribute to Kaia for playing well and wish her all the best for the rest of the tournament.”
Injuries have plagued Osaka’s season. She withdrew from the semi-finals of the Melbourne Summer Set 1 tournament in January due to an abdominal injury and missed the Italian Open and Wimbledon due to injury to the Achilles tendon.
The National Bank Open marked Osaka’s second tournament since the French Open in May following her return to competition at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic last week where she reached the last 16 and was beaten by Coco Gauff.
“When I was playing the match earlier, I realized that I let people call me mentally weak for so long that I forgot who I was,” Osaka said after that match last week. according to the WTA.
“I realized it’s something I do. I lost the game today, but I feel really confident in who I am. I feel like the pressure doesn’t beat me. I’m the pressure. I’m really happy about that.”
Kanepi’s victory over Osaka continued her recent run of form in which she has won five of her last six matches, reached her 10th career final at the Citi Open last week and climbed to No. 31 in the world – her highest ranking since 2014.
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