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Emotional Osaka says she is “going to take a break from playing for a while”

After a break earlier in the year, Naomi Osaka said she is likely to take another break from the tour following her third-round loss at the US Open on Friday

Naomi Osaka ruled out the US Open 2021 Naomi Osaka by © Geoff Burke / AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she is not sure when she will play her next match after she teared up in a press conference following her three-set loss to 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the third round of the US Open on Friday night.

Osaka, the defending champion, started her third-round match on Friday well – winning the first set and going up a break in the second to serve for the match at 7-5, 6-5 before Fernandez fought back to win 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 in a little over two hours in front of a packed stadium on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Having already spoken about her difficulties with post-match press conferences earlier in the season, Osaka once again found it hard to talk about her feelings after the match. Even as the press conference moderator told the media that they had finished the press conference, as Osaka teared up, the Japanese decided she wanted to complete her answer.

“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, but basically I feel like… (Tearing up.)

“I kind of want to finish this. I’m sorry. Hmm, 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 (tearing up). I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

Osaka: “Recently I feel very anxious when things don’t go my way, and I feel like you can feel that “

Having played few events over the past six months, Osaka said she could not feel her game on Friday and found it hard to assess if the tournament was a step forward for her after her recent struggles.

“I thought I didn’t play that well. Like I didn’t move that well at all. It’s kind of to be expected sometimes. I think I would have preferred to play a match (referring to her second-round walkover). I’ve never had a walkover in a Grand Slam, so that was definitely a really weird feeling. And I’m honestly not sure if I feel like I’ve taken a step today or this tournament. I feel like I’m not really sure what I can say about how I played just now.”

Osaka grew visibly frustrated in the second half of the match, hitting her racquet on the court on two occasions and sending a ball into the stands, for which she received a code violation.

Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open
Naomi Osaka at the 2021 US Open © AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

While apologising for the incident in her press conference, Osaka said things came to a boiling point when she had the outburst and also referred to feeling very anxious in recent times when things don’t go her way on the court.

“I’m really sorry about that. I’m not really sure why. 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, it’s basically why. You could kind of see that. I was kind of like a little kid.”

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