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Is Naomi Osaka playing in the 2022 Australian Open?

The defending champ withdrew from a warm-up event ahead of the 2022 Australian Open. We break down what it means.

Naomi Osaka of Japan serves in her match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany during day five of the Melbourne Summer Set at Melbourne Park on January 07, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images

UPDATE: Osaka is set to open her Australian Open title defense on Sunday evening against María Camila Osorio Serrano.

World No. 14 and defending champion Naomi Osaka is in Australia preparing for the 2022 Australian Open, but her status is a bit unclear two days before the tournament draw takes place.

Osaka was playing in the Melbourne Summer Set 1 and had advanced to the semifinals having dropped only one set in three matches. However, Osaka withdrew from her semifinal match against Veronika Kudermetova, citing a shock to her body after her recent break from tennis.

While this would normally be concerning about her prospects of playing in the first Grand Slam of the 2022 calendar, tennis report José Morgado noted she has previously withdrawn from a warm-up event only to go on to win the subsequent Grand Slam tournament. She did so in 2020 leading up to the US Open and then a year ago leading up to the Australian Open.

Regardless, the withdrawal stings for Osaka because it changes her likely draw on Thursday and will result in her having to play one of the top four seeds in the round of 16. That group will include Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Barbora Krejčíková.