Naomi Osaka plans to take a break from tennis after shock US Open exit

Defending champion Osaka, who suffered a stunning loss in the US Open third round, does not know when she will play again.

Naomi Osaka in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/@naomiosaka)

Following her surprise third-round loss at the US Open, World No. 3 Naomi Osaka told reporters she is unsure when she will play her next match. The defending US Open champion lost to Canadian teen left-hander Leylah Fernandez 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. The world number three from Japan, who withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon over mental health issues, was on course to win the match. Osaka, however, was broken as she served for the match in the second set, and a poor tie-break handed Fernandez a way back into the match. The Canadian teen made the most of her new found momentum to win the match in the decider.

“How do I go around saying this?” Naomi Osaka asked aloud during an emotional post-match press conference, as she struggled to hold back tears. “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…”

Naomi Osaka: I’m trying to figure out what I want to do

When the US Open moderator offered to end the press conference, Osaka declined. She continued, “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.”

Naomi Osaka believed she served well against Fernandez, but was not content with the way she played overall. “I didn’t play that well. Like I didn’t move that well at all. It’s kind of to be expected sometimes,” she added.

When asked about trouble against left-handers, Osaka replied, “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 really horrendous. It wasn’t like she was serving bombs, so I’m not really sure what to say.”

Naomi Osaka had not played since Monday’s opener after receiving 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 just now.”

‘Maybe there was a boiling point’

Notably in the second set, Osaka slammed her racquet to the court several times after missing a chance to serve out for the match. “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. “I’m not really sure why it happens the way it happens now. But, yeah, it’s basically why. You could kind of see that. I was kind of like a little kid.”

When asked if the trouble might have come from the Canadian teen’s serve or the tension of the moment, Osaka replied, “I don’t think it was her serve because I’ve been able to return pretty well against people that served better. 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.”

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