Record 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal showed empathy to Naomi Osaka after she was heckled at the Indian Wells Masters. Osaka, who won her first Masters title in Indian Wells four years ago, was heckled by a fan during her second round match against Veronika Kudermetova.
Osaka was visibly upset, spent the majority of the first set crying and asking the chair umpire to remove the fan. Osaka also asked the chair umpire to be given the microphone so she could addressed the crowd but the chair umpire denied her request.
Osaka went on to lose the match as Kudermetova defeated the Japanese 6-0 6-4.
Nadal on Osaka being heckled
"I understand that Naomi suffered a lot with her kind of issues, mental issues. The only thing I wish her is recover well from that and wish her all the very best.
But the life, nothing is perfect in this life, no? We need to be ready for adversities," Nadal said, per Mario Boccardi. Osaka's request to address the crowd during the match was denied but after the match she was given the microphone and briefly addressed the crowd.
"Hi," Osaka said, greeting the crowd. "I just wanted to say thank you. I feel like I cried enough on camera. To be honest, I've gotten heckled before and it didn't really bother me. But heckled here. ... I've watched a video of Serena and Venus getting heckled here and if you've never watched it you should watch.
I don't know why but it went into my head and got replayed a lot. I'm trying not to cry but, I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations [Veronika]. Thank you." Osaka is out of the tournament but Nadal has advanced to the round-of-16.
Nadal will be fighting against Reilly Opelka for a place in the Indian Wells quarterfinal. Nadal is a three-time Indian Wells champion as he aims his first Indian Wells title since 2013.