Naomi Osaka has apologised after losing her cool in her shock US Open defeat to teenager Leylah Fernandez and has confirmed that she will take another extended break from tennis.
The 23-year-old, who was trying to defend the title she won last year, took the first set and appeared to be on course to progress to the fourth round when she broke Fernandez’s serve in the second set to take a 6-5 lead.
But she made several errors and was immediately broken back before losing the tiebreak 7-2, uncharacteristically throwing her racket to the ground in annoyance.
Fernandez then took the third set to dump the defending champion out, and Osaka – who took a break from the sport earlier this year to focus on her mental health – says she is no longer enjoying playing tennis.
Asked why she threw her racket at her post-match press conference, Osaka replied: ‘Yeah I’m really sorry about that.
‘I’m not really sure why [I did it]. I felt like I was pretty [calm], 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, that’s basically why. You could kind of see that, I was kind of like a little kid.’
Osaka withdrew from the French Open earlier this year and also missed Wimbledon, only returning for the Tokyo Olympics and then the US Open, but now says she will take another break.
‘I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do,’ she continued.
‘I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing 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. I don’t think that’s normal.’
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