Naomi Osaka mystery as Australian Open chiefs “scrambling” to see if she’ll play

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Naomi Osaka was the world’s highest-paid female athlete during 2022 (Image: Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka was the world’s highest-paid female athlete during 2022 (Image: Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka's whereabouts remain unclear just 10 days before the start of the Australian Open.

The two-time champion is on the Melbourne tournament entry list but appears set to miss out, having just arrived back in the United States following a trip around Europe.

Tennis stars have arrived Down Under in the past week as they step up their preparations for the competition by playing in warm-up events. A host of women players are in New Zealand competing in the ASB Classic.

But Osaka's involvement remains a mystery with officials scrambling around to see if she will be involved when the tournament gets underway on January 16.

Osaka enjoyed a trip around Europe with partner Cordae over the festive period and uploaded a photo album to Instagram with a series of shots from some time in Paris.

Novak Djokovic won Australian Open despite playing with major hamstring tear rridqqieqiqerinvNovak Djokovic won Australian Open despite playing with major hamstring tear

She is believed to have arrived back in the US this week but having not played a match in four months, it appears almost certain she will not be involved in Melbourne later this month.

Fans were quick to question when - and even if - she will return to the court, with Aurum227 asking: "Do you still play tennis?" Meanwhile, Zizzi56 quipped: "But Australia isn't in Europe!"

But G5Stunner told the Japanese star in no uncertain terms: "You should be focusing more on winning more tournaments and championship. Your tennis career is on the sloppy side."

Osaka sat out the French Open in 2021 and later revealed she had been battling anxiety and depression for a number of years.

She broke her social media silence on Thursday to welcome world No.2 Ons Jabeur to her sports management agency, Evolve.

Recalling a story when the pair first met at the WTA Finals in 2015, Osaka added: "Over the years, watching her rise through the tour and become the star that she is has been incredibly joyful to watch and I can't wait to see her create more history and ascend even higher."

Liam Prenderville

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