Naomi Osaka: Tennis star hints at difficult year as she celebrates entering 2022

Naomi Osaka hints at difficult year as she celebrates entering 2022

Tennis player Naomi Osaka hinted at a difficult 2021 as she celebrated the New Year.

The four-time Grand Slam champion has been on a break from the court since crashing out of the US Open in the third round in September.

After her loss to Leylah Fernandez, Osaka revealed winning no longer left her feeling happy, and losing left her feeling “very sad”.

As a result, she put her mental health first, and stepped away from tennis.

The 24-year-old had already skipped both the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, and went out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the third round. She also slipped in the world standings from number two to 13.

In a post to celebrate the New Year, Osaka sounded relieved to put 2021 behind her.

“I’ve never been more excited for a year to be over,” she wrote on Twitter.

Fans responded to assure Osaka that she would have a successful 2022, with one writing: “Amen! 2022 is going to leave 2021 where it belongs…way behind us! However, even painful years are years of growth.”

Another replied: “You had it unfairly rough last year. I pray 2022 is your year!! Wishing you everything your heart desires.”

Last year wasn’t all bad for Osaka, who earned her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

She has now arrived in Melbourne to defend her title, and has appeared excited, relaxed and happy on social media.

Osaka will make her first appearance in four months at the Melbourne Summer Set, which will run from January 3rd to 9th.

Naomi Osaka has arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Open

The WTA 250 event is split into two tournaments, and boasts a star-studded line-up.

Osaka could come up against top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and former world number one Simona Halep.

The Australian Open then begins on January 17th.

Osaka is the only one of last year’s semi-finalists to enter the 2022 draw – Serena Williams, Jennifer Brady and Karolína Muchová have all withdrawn with injury.

The field is still stacked with talent, however, and home favourite Ashleigh Barty will be considered the player to beat.

The world number one and two-time Grand Slam winner is yet to triumph at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-final in 2020.

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