Naomi Osaka: Shock US Open loss leaves star questioning whether she’ll play tennis again

Naomi Osaka revealed she was taking another break from tennis after losing in the third round of the US Open

Naomi Osaka has revealed she will be taking a break from tennis after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open.

The 23-year-old went into the Grand Slam as the defending champion, easing through her first round match against Marie Bouzková of the Czech Republic. But after a walkover in the second round, Osaka struggled to get past Canadian teenager Fernandez, losing 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Osaka showed visible signs of frustration, slamming her tennis racket to the ground after coming off second-best to Fernandez in the second set tie-breaker. The Japanese star apologised for her actions in the post-match press conference.

“Yeah, I’m really sorry about that. I’m not really sure why [I did it]. I felt like I was pretty [calm], I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point.

“Normally I feel like I like challenges, but recently I feel very anxious when things don’t go my way and I feel like you can feel that.

“I’m not really sure why it happens the way it happens now. But yeah, that’s basically why. You could kind of see that, I was kind of like a little kid.”

Naomi Osaka showed frustration during her US Open third round loss

Osaka then revealed she would be stepping back from the tennis court again, having skipped both the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry.

“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.

“How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

Osaka, currently ranked number three in the world, burst onto the scene in 2018 when she won her first WTA title at the Indian Wells Open. Later that year, she defeated tennis legend Serena Williams in the final of the US Open to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

She won the US Open again in 2020, also triumphing at the Australian Open twice, including at the start of this year.

Osaka then withdrew from the French Open, having declined to fulfil her media obligations. She revealed she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning the US Open in 2018 and claimed people often had “no regard for mental health” during press conferences.

She remained away from the court for Wimbledon, but returned to competition for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, losing in the third round.

The tennis star has been commended for speaking openly about her struggles with mental health. Former player Tim Henman told GiveMeSport Women he believed Osaka was an inspiration to others.

“I think it’s been such an important conversation when you consider what the world has gone through in the last 18 months,” he said.

“It’s been massively challenging and mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront, so when you get such a high profile athlete who is honest enough and brave enough to come forward and talk about her challenges, I think it helps an enormous amount of people.”

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