Rafael Nadal said he felt sorry for Naomi Osaka after she was rattled by a heckler in the crowd during her second round loss at the Indian Wells Masters. The Spaniard feels that tennis players need to be ready to deal with adversities as “nothing is perfect” in life.
The Japanese WTA star was thrown off her game against Veronika Kudermetova, and began to cry after a person in the crowd screamed, “Naomi, you suck!”. The incident occurred early in the game, which Osaka went on to lose 6-0, 6-4.
After the match, Osaka addressed the crowd, who were supportive of the four-time women’s singles Grand Slam champion. She revealed that the heckler brought back memories of the abuse Serena and Venus Williams suffered at Indian Wells in 2001, which saw the sisters boycott the event for over a decade.
Nadal spoke of his sympathy for Osaka following his 7-5, 6-3 win over Dan Evans at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event on Monday. The 2022 Australian Open champion feels tennis players need to be prepared to face such incidents, and wished the former world number one well going forward.
“In the real world, that happens, you know? I feel very sorry for her,” Nadal said, as quoted on Sportstar. “We are very lucky people that we’re able to enjoy amazing experiences because we are tennis players.”
“Even if is terrible to hear, we need to be prepared for that, no? We need to resist these kind of issues that can happen when you are exposed to the people. Nothing is perfect in this life, no? We need to be ready for adversities.”
“I understand that probably Naomi suffered a lot with these kind of issues that she has, mental (health) issues. The only thing that I wish her is recover well from that and wish her all the very best,” he added.
Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Gael Monfils on Monday, was more understanding of Osaka’s feelings after admitting that he faced a similar situation in Melbourne. The crowd during the Australian Open final in January was mainly pro-Nadal, which took a toll on the Russian as he went down despite being two sets up.
“I felt not great in Australia,” said Medvedev, who will lose his world number one status on Monday. “I can feel the fans that maybe say, what the hell? They’re (players) getting millions. They should be ready for everything.”
“At the same time we’re humans. Sometimes we feel bad. Sometimes we feel good. I can understand that Naomi didn’t feel that great when she heard it and I can completely understand her feelings.”