The 2018 US Open winner Naomi Osaka will face the former world No. 1 Karolína Plíšková in the semi-final match, which is scheduled for Thursday, January 24. But, she should be more focused on the upcoming on-court fights than a Melbourne campaign, which has become a topic of debate that advertised Japanese star players as a "whitewashed" cartoons.

The Japanese instant noodles company Nissin has now been forced to apologise for the campaigns which featured two Japanese gems Kei Nishikori and Osaka.

The advertisement received criticism as the animation makers completely change the skin tone of Nishikori an Osaka, who celebrated her Haitian and Japanese genes publicly. The makers not only changes Osaka's skin tone, they also forgot about her trademark hair style.

Later, Nissin has released a statement to international media and stated that the commercial is a part of an advertisement campaign launched in this January called "Hungry to Win". The company claimed that the depictions of Nishikori and Osaka are simply in-line with the artist's traditional stylings.

As reported by The Japan Times, Baye McNeil, a Japan based author wrote, "I'd been anticipating Osaka's appearance since it isn't often that a high-profile woman of color is featured in a major Japanese ad campaign. So when I cued it up on YouTube I was truly disappointed to see that there was no woman of color to speak of in the commercial. Instead, I found a whitewashed representation of Osaka.

"Come on, Nissin. Was this a business decision? Did you have concerns that your customers might be forced to uncomfortably ponder issues of race or ethnicity while slurping down a bowl of U.F.O. Yakisoba?

"Sure, anime fans aren't used to seeing women of colour in the genre so ... a few shades lighter on the skin here ... a debroadening of the nose there ... the de-exoticization of her hair ... and, voila! The perfectly palatable girl next door. Not for this fan, though. Osaka's de-blackening is as problematic to me as a Bobby Riggs tirade against female tennis players," the writer further added.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka winner of 2018 US Open Reuters

However, it is important for any players to overlook such controversies, when they are preparing for the semi-final match in the Australian Open. Even though for the 29-year-old Nishikori the race is over, as he retired during the second set of the quarter final match against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 21-year-old Osaka is all set to face Czech ace Pliskova on Thursday, Jnauary 24 at Rod Laver Arena. Last year both the players' faced each other in Tokyo and Indian Wells.

On Wednesday Pliskova defeated Serena Williams, who struggled after taking a 5-1 lead in the third set and let the 26-year-old kiss the victory.

The Thursday face-off is expected to start at 12.30 pm SGT. Here are the live streaming details:

Australian Open 2019: TV guide

  • Singapore: Fox Sports
  • Malaysia: Fox Sports
  • Japan: NHK, WOWOW
  • India: Sony Six
  • Serbia: Eurosport
  • UK: Eurosport
  • US: ESPN and Tennis Channel