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Tennis ace Osaka addresses equal pay claims by Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas suggested that equal prize money should mean women play best-of-five-sets matches in common with men

Former Grand Slam title winner Naomi Osaka has gone beyond the third round of a tournament for the first time in 2022 by reaching the semifinals of the Miami Open – and the Japanese superstar discussed Stefano Tsitsipas, equal pay and Nick Kyrgios after her victory.

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Former world number one Osaka is yet to drop a set in Miami following a troubling end to her campaign at Indian Wells in California, where she was reduced to tears by a heckler as she lost in straight sets to Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

The record-setting earner among female athletes called Tsitsipas “so funny” when a reporter told her that he had mentioned the prospect of women potentially playing as many sets as men in return for equal prize money.

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WTA players currently contest best-of-three matches, while men need to win three sets in order to secure victory only at Grand Slams. Otherwise, male players generally play best of three sets as well.

“Does he want to play nine sets?” the world number 77 asked after breezing past US rival Alison Riske.

“If he tries to extend mine, I’m going to extend his. I don’t know. I feel like that would change the structure of tennis. People will start doing things differently in the gym and stuff like that.

“It will probably also take a very long time to be implemented – but also, a man is talking about a women’s sport, so I don’t think his idea is going to go through.

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“I don’t want to be rude. I’m really trying to structure this in a way that’s not off-putting, but I think it’s like decades of hard work [for equality].

“Up until now, women have been putting in the work. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, it’s come out of nowhere that you get paid the same.’

“The history of the WTA has been leading them into advocating for equal pay with Billie Jean King, Venus [Williams], Serena [Williams], all that.

“I also think ticket sales are important. I think the WTA has really good up-and-comers.

“The number one player in the world, Iga [Swiatek], is 20, right? I don’t know. It’s who people find interesting. Coco [Gauff] is amazing as well.

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“I can’t give a PowerPoint presentation on [the] question but I feel like the revenue that you generate, like ticket sales, is very important, and I think the WTA is doing a really good job at that.”

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By Cleo

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