World number one Naomi Osaka joked that she had jinxed herself after pulling out of the WTA tournament in Stuttgart due to an abdominal injury on Saturday, but hopes to return to action in time for the French Open.
The 21-year-old Japanese was scheduled to play a semi-final against Estonian eighth seed Anett Kontaveit, but announced in the afternoon that she would be unable to play.
Having spoken about her tendency to get injured on clay before the tournament, Osaka joked that she should watch her mouth in future.
“They say you can speak things into existence. I feel like I do that a lot,” she said.
Yet the world number one said she was confident that she would return to fitness in time to play at Roland Garros at the end of next month where she will be bidding for a third successive Grand Slam title.
“Even though it is bad that I got injured here, I am happy that it happened at the beginning of the clay season, and not in Rome where it is really close to the French Open. It’s an ab strain, something that I’ve had before.
“Thankfully, because I’ve had it so many times I am able to tell what it is and I know what to do. I have it at least once every year. It takes a few days to not feel it, and then I just have to strengthen. It really depends on how badly I tore it. I don’t think it’s that severe, but it’s still a bit concerning.”
Osaka said that she had to roll out of bed on Saturday morning after picking up the injury during her quarter-final win over Donna Vekic on Friday. “I couldn’t lift my upper body. I don’t expect that I will be able to serve,” she said.
The Japanese star said she had broken the news that she was in pain to her team after her dramatic comeback against Vekic. “We were in the gym to cool down and they were all happy,” she said.
“I was like er, I have some bad news, and sort of sprung it on them that I was in pain. They were cool about it, so I am grateful to them.”
Yet having reached the last four of a WTA tournament for the first time since winning the Australian Open last January, Osaka said she was happy with how things had gone in Stuttgart.
“I am happy that I won two matches here. This was a really good boost for me, because it let me know that even though I am internalising pain or feelings, I can still win matches.”
Osaka’s withdrawal handed Estonian eighth seed Kontaveit an automatic place in the final on Sunday. She will face world number three Petra Kvitova, who beat the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-1 in her semi-final.
The Czech is in the final for the first time in Stuttgart, having twice been knocked out in the last four in past years. “It won’t be easy against Anett. We practised a bit together before the tournament, which was fun,” said Kvitova.