Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal
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Naomi Osaka tearfully apologised after throwing a tantrum during her shock US Open defeat to teenager Leylah Fernandez on Friday night – and admitted she does not know when she will next play tennis. The 23-year-old, who won the Grand Slam last year, announced she will take an extended break from tennis, citing a loss of love for the game.
Osaka was the third seed at Flushing Meadows and took the first set against Fernandez, with a place in the fourth round seemingly there for the taking.
The Japanese star appeared on track to secure the win when she broke Fernandez’s serve in the second set to lead 6-5 – just one game away from progressing.
However, Osaka made a number of errors and allowed Fernandez to break her serve immediately before losing the resulting tie-break 7-2.
Osaka was frustrated by the decline in her own performance and uncharacteristically threw her racket to the ground in a clear sign of anger.
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Her 18-year-old opponent then triumphed in the third set 6-4 to eliminate and stun the reigning US Open champion and Osaka admitted she is no longer enjoying tennis.
The four-time Grand Slam winner took a break from the sport after the French Open earlier this year to focus on her mental health.
Asked why she threw her racket at her press conference after losing to the Canadian, Osaka said: “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.
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“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.”
Osaka withdrew from the French Open earlier this year after refusing to show up at a mandatory press conferences as she wanted to look after her own mental health, which led to the world number three receiving a controversial fine from tournament organisers
She returned for the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the flame at the National Stadium, and the US Open but she declared she will now take another break following her third round exit as she tried to hold back the tears.
“I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do,” Osaka continued as she fought back tears.
“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.
“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.”
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