Tearful Osaka to take break from tennis after shock loss
NEW YORK, Sept 4, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi
Osaka, wiping away tears after a stunning US Open upset loss on Friday, said
she will take an indefinite break from playing tennis.
"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," Osaka
said, choking up and wiping away tears. "I think I'm going to take a break
from playing for a while."
With that, the defending US Open champion put on her Covid-19 facemask,
rose and ended the news conference after losing to Canadian teen left-hander
Leylah Fernandez 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
The world number three from Japan, who withdrew from the French Open and
skipped Wimbledon over mental health issues that she said were exacerbated by
speaking after matches, declined a chance to end the session before saying
she planned to take a break.
"How do I go around saying this?" Osaka asked aloud. "I feel like for me
recently, like, 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..."
After saying she wanted to continue, Osaka, said: "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."
Then she announced her tennis break.
Osaka said she thought she served well against Fernandez, but overall she
added: "I didn't play that well. Like I didn't move that well at all. It's
kind of to be expected sometimes."
Asked about trouble against left-handers, Osaka said, "I can't even tell
you how it feels to return it because I don't think I could have returned a
ball against a righty today either. I'm pretty sure my return stats were
"It wasn't like she was serving bombs, so I'm not really sure what to say."
Osaka had not played a match since Monday's opener after getting a walkover
in the second round.
"I think I would have preferred to play a match. I've never had a walkover
in a Grand Slam, so that was definitely a really weird feeling," Osaka said.
"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
- Maybe a 'boiling point' -
Osaka's break from tennis, with a potential title defense coming early next
year at the Australian Open, came on a night where she slammed her racquet to
the court several times after missing a chance to serve out for the match in
the second set.
"I'm really sorry about that," she said. "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."
She compared it to a child's temper tantrum.
"I'm not really sure why it happens the way it happens now," Osaka said.
"But, yeah, it's basically why. You could kind of see that.
"I was kind of like a little kid."
Asked if the trouble might have come from Fernandez's serve or the tension
of the moment, Osaka indicated it was other issues she was dealing with that
caused the meltdown.
"I don't think it was her serve because I've been able to return pretty
well against people that served better," Osaka said. "I don't think it's the
occasion because I've been in this situation before.
"I guess we're all dealing with some stuff, but I know that I'm dealing
with some stuff."