Naomi Osaka Weighs Another Break From Tennis After US Open Loss



NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Osaka seemed over at her agent and mentioned she needed to inform the world what the 2 of them had mentioned privately in an Arthur Ashe Stadium hallway after her U.S. Open title protection ended with a racket-tossing, composure-missing, lead-evaporating defeat within the third spherical.

And then Osaka, pausing from time to time as her voice obtained caught on her phrases and her eyes stuffed with tears, mentioned Friday night time she is considering taking one other break from tennis “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,” Osaka mentioned at her information convention following a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 loss at Flushing Meadows to Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old from Canada who’s ranked 73rd and by no means had been this far in Grand Slam competitors. “I don’t think that’s normal.”

The moderator in control of the session with reporters tried to chop issues off, however Osaka mentioned she needed to proceed.

“This is very hard to articulate,” she mentioned, resting her left cheek in her hand. “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.”

Crying, she lowered her black visor over her eyes and provided an apology, then patted her palms on each cheeks.

“Yeah,” Osaka added as she rose to go away, “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

This was the primary Slam match for the 23-year-old Osaka since she pulled out of the French Open earlier than the second spherical to take a psychological well being break after having introduced she wouldn’t take part in information conferences in Paris.

She additionally sat out Wimbledon, earlier than collaborating within the Tokyo Olympics, the place she lit the cauldron as one in all Japan’s most well-known athletes.

Osaka owns 4 Grand Slam titles, together with on the U.S. Open in 2018 — beating Serena Williams in a chaotic remaining — and a yr in the past, plus two extra on the exhausting courts of the Australian Open. When she took a hiatus after Roland Garros, she revealed that she endures waves of hysteria earlier than assembly with the media and has handled despair for 3 years.

Over the final week, Osaka has written on social media and spoken about her ideas on the significance of self-belief and the way she desires to disregard others’ expectations.

The first signal Friday that issues weren’t fully OK with Osaka got here when she smacked her racket in opposition to the courtroom after dropping one level. Moments later, Osaka chucked her tools, sending it bouncing and skidding midway to the online. Then got here a full-on spike close to the baseline.

Afterward, she in contrast that habits to appearing “kind of like a little kid.”

“I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point,” Osaka mentioned. “Like, 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.”

Her sport was off. Her sport face was gone. By the top, the gang was booing her for turning her again to the courtroom and taking an excessive amount of time between factors.

Soon sufficient, the No. 3-seeded Osaka was out of the bracket.

This day had that form of vibe: Earlier in Ashe, one other 18-year-old new to this territory surprisingly eradicated a No. 3 seed when Carlos Alcaraz of Spain edged French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) to turn into the youngest man into the fourth spherical at Flushing Meadows since Michael Chang and Pete Sampras in 1989.

Osaka got here in with a 16-match profitable streak at majors. Still, Fernandez declared: “Right before the match, I knew I was able to win.”

For Osaka, possibly the time away from high-level competitors was a difficulty.

Another potential think about her failure to shut issues out whereas serving for the victory in opposition to the left-hander Fernandez at 6-5 within the second set: Osaka hadn’t performed a match since Monday. The standard day-on, day-off rhythm at Slams was disrupted as a result of the girl Osaka was supposed to fulfill within the second spherical, Olga Danilovic, withdrew with an sickness.

“I’ve never had a walkover in a Grand Slam, so that was definitely a really weird feeling,” Osaka mentioned.

On Friday, Osaka was fairly good down the stretch within the opening set. She grabbed 12 of 13 factors, together with the final 9, with a break at like to go up 6-5, and a maintain at love with the assistance of a pair of aces at 112 mph and 114 mph to finish it.

Seemed on monitor for the same conclusion within the second set, main 6-5 and serving. But when Osaka sailed a forehand large, Fernandez had her first break of the match to make it 6-all.

“Finally, I found a pattern to her serve,” Fernandez mentioned. “I just trusted my gut and hit the ball.”

And so started Osaka’s downward spiral. She fell behind 5-0 within the ensuing tiebreaker, lacking photographs and displaying her frustration as she sometimes has finished prior to now — by flinging her racket.

Chair umpire Alison Hughes didn’t sanction Osaka then, though later a warning was issued for hitting a ball into the stands.

“I wasn’t really focused on Naomi,” Fernandez mentioned. “I was only focused on myself, my game, what I needed to do.”

More to the purpose, Osaka was not at her greatest. She left the courtroom with a white towel draped over her head after the second set, then sat in her changeover chair in that very same block-out-the-world method.

Fernandez, smiling and holding her proper fist overhead after the largest of factors, definitely had one thing to do with the result.

She gained 18 of 19 first-serve factors — and by no means confronted a break level — within the third set.

Fernandez’s knee-to-the-ground, quick-redirect model on the baseline is paying homage to one other lefty, Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion who gained the 2016 U.S. Open.

And who simply so occurs to be the subsequent opponent for Fernandez.

“I’m going to put on a show like I did tonight,” Fernandez mentioned, “and we’re going to see how it goes.”