Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will not play at the Australian Open, adding her name to a growing list of notable withdrawals.
Organisers confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that Japan’s Osaka, the Open champion in 2019 and 2021, will not be playing in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old Osaka’s ranking has slipped to 47 and she has not played since September after withdrawing during the second round of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. She won her first-round match at that tournament when Australia’s Daria Saville withdrew after one game with a knee injury.
Osaka won only one completed match since May and was beaten in the first round of her three previous tournaments, including the US Open at which she also is a two-time champion.
She had been considered unlikely to play in the first Grand Slam of the season.
Osaka took a mental health break after missing the 2021 French Open and later said she had been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years. Her absence from Melbourne adds to uncertainty over when or if she will resume her career.
Last week she posted pictures on social media of a trip to Europe with her rapper boyfriend Cordae.
The Australian Open, which starts on January 16, has already lost several leading players including men’s world number one Carlos Alcaraz who pulled out Saturday with an ankle injury.
Former finalist Simona Halep also is not playing this year and Venus Williams also has handed back a wildcard entry after suffering an injury while practising in Auckland.
Open organisers were already reeling from the retirements last year of reigning women’s champion Ashleigh Barty and legends Serena Williams and Roger Federer.
But nine-time champion Novak Djokovic is back after missing last year’s event when he was deported over his vaccination status.
Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal, who won the 2022 title in Djokovic’s absence, will also line up, taking over the top seeding from Alcaraz.