After her surprisingly early retirement from the US Open, Naomi Osaka has announced a break from tennis.
The world number three Naomi Osaka has left the timing of her return to the tour open. In an emotional press conference, at which she visibly struggled to maintain composure, the 23-year-old Japanese gave deep insights into her soul life on Friday evening (local time).
She ended her appearance in front of media representatives in New York with the words: “I think I'll pause playing for a while.” Osaka had made public a good three months ago that she was suffering from phases of depression. After her retirement from the French Open, she took a break until the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she was eliminated disappointingly early in the round of 16 as a local hero.
Victories would no longer make her happy, admitted the US-raised athlete in New York on Friday. “It feels more like a relief. And then when I lose, I'm very sad. I don't think that's normal.” Then Osaka turned to their plans for the future. “I feel like I'm at this point where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. And I honestly don't know when I'll be playing my next tennis match.”
“Like a little child”
At the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, the co-favorite had already been eliminated in the third round. Against the 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez – number 73 in the world rankings – she lost 7: 5, 6: 7 (2: 7) and 4: 6. Osaka seemed erratic, made a number of careless mistakes and sometimes let their frustration run free. In the third set she threw her club several times on the hard court and crept with bowed head over the course in Flushing Meadows.
You tried in vain to remain calm, Osaka later told the press conference. “I usually like challenges, but lately I've been feeling very insecure when things aren't going so well for me, and I feel like you can feel that too.” On the pitch, she behaved “like a little child”.