Mon. Oct 26th, 2020

Naomi Osaka wears Ahmaud Arbery mask at US Open and continues to win

3 min read

(CNN)After wearing masks with the names of Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain in rounds at the US Open, Naomi Osaka bore the name of Ahmaud Arbery on her mask Friday, downing Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in New York.

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The mask was back on during her post-match interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

    Indeed, the world’s highest-earning female athlete continues to raise awareness about social injustice. Last Thursday she pulled out of her semifinal at the Western & Southern Open in the aftermath of Jacob Blake’s shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Organizers later decided to “pause” that tournament after other sports postponed play, with the 2018 US Open champion returning a day later to defeat Elise Mertens.Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on August 23, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Read MoreArbery was killed in Brunswick, Georgia, months earlier in February when he was chased by two White men while jogging, authorities say. The 25-year-old was shot three times and died. The pair face murder charges along with another man who filmed the incident.Taylor, an aspiring EMT, was shot and killed by plainclothes police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, in March during a no-knock warrant while McClain, a massage therapist, died last August in Denver after being placed in a chokehold by police. Osaka — who represents Japan but has lived in the US most of her life — joined protests in Minneapolis in the days after George Floyd’s death in May. Floyd was pinned down by police, with one officer keeping his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck for more than eight minutes, according to the probable cause statement. Osaka has vowed to wear a mask with a different name on it for as long as she remains in the US Open. Fellow players, including her friend Frances Tiafoe, have praised her. “She’s special on and off court, what she stands for,” he told reporters Thursday. “Always nice and quiet. But to see actually her use her platforms and go crazy, it’s special. You tip your hat off to that.”I’m proud of her and I keep hoping she’s doing the same thing. I’m going to try to do my things on my front. Sloane is, too. I know the Williams sisters are. All these guys. Yeah, I’m just happy to be a part of that list,” he added referring to fellow Black players Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

    Match got complicated for Osaka

    Osaka’s tussle against her 137th-ranked Ukrainian opponent got complicated after the 22-year-old missed plenty of chances to blow the encounter open. The fourth seed continued to wear strapping to her left thigh after an injury last week forced her to pull out of the Western & Southern final. But it was Kostyuk who was visited — twice — by the trainer. She appeared to have a foot injury.

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    Naomi Osaka’s CNN quickfire challenge 01:35By early in the second set, Osaka was only 2 for 14 on break points while not facing a break point herself. But she paid for not putting Kostyuk away in the set. Kostyuk couldn’t serve out the set but won it in a tiebreak, leading Osaka to throw her racket down in disgust.

      Kostyuk now had all the momentum but will be ruing not taking any of her five break chances at 2-1 in the decider. Osaka broke in the next game — helped by back-to-back Kostyuk double faults — and then lost one point the rest of the way. She will meet a seeded player next, either No. 14 Anett Kontaveit or No. 24 Magda Linette. Fans are being kept away from the US Open this year because of the pandemic.

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