Naomi Osaka‘s opener at the 2022 Tokyo Open in front of her home fans got off to an unexpected start, with the clash coming to an end just 15 minutes later. Her opponent on the night, Daria Saville, had to retire from the encounter after suffering a freak injury to her left knee that made it impossible for her to carry on.
As Saville went down in pain in the second game of the contest, the Japanese rushed over immediately with a towel to cover her up, draping it over the Australian while the medical officer checked on her.
Osaka’s act of kindness, something of an anomaly in the sport, drew a big round of cheers from the fans in attendance, a sentiment shared by the WTA’s most prominent photographer (@Jimmie48 Photography) on social media.
‘Jimmie,’ the only single photographer to cover the entire WTA season from January to November, took to Twitter to share his shot of the moment, remarking that it was always a fine line to tread when photographing players who are visibly in pain.
“Having to capture players getting injured is my absolute worst case scenario. Most of the time I’m lucky to miss out on these moments, tonight it happened right in front of me,” he said. “Always a fine line to tread, trying to mindful of the injured player.”
Admitting that he was not comfortable with taking close-up shots in such scenarios, the photographer heaped praise on Naomi Osaka for the way she handled the situation and shielded Saville from the watchful eyes of the TV cameras.
“I realize this is somewhat of a moot point with half a dozen TV cameras and tons of other photographers being there, but personally I’m not comfortable taking close-up shots of players in pain etc. Absolutely loved how Naomi handled it all.”
Naomi Osaka takes on Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round in Tokyo
Naomi Osaka at the 2022 US Open
Following her victory over Daria Saville, Naomi Osaka will lock horns with fifth seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round of the 2022 Tokyo Open. The Brazilian beat another Japanese, Yuki Naito, in the first round to set up a meeting with the four-time Grand Slam champion.
The duo have met once previously on the WTA Tour in the qualification rounds of the 2015 Osprey Open, where Osaka won in straight sets. A victory against Haddad Maia would pit the former World No. 1 against either fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova or Fernando Contreras Gomez in the quarterfinals.