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Naomi Osaka ousted at US Open, weighs one other break from tennis

NEW YORK — Naomi Osaka regarded over at her agent and mentioned she wished 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.

His reply: “Positive.”

After which Osaka, pausing sometimes as her voice obtained caught on her phrases and her eyes full of tears, mentioned Friday night time she is considering taking one other break from tennis “for some time.”

“I really feel like for me, not too long ago, once I win, I don’t really feel completely happy, I really feel extra like a aid. After which once I lose, I really feel very unhappy,” Osaka mentioned at her information convention following a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-Four 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 suppose that is regular.”

“I really feel like for me, not too long ago, once I win, I don’t really feel completely happy, I really feel extra like a aid. After which once I lose, I really feel very unhappy.” 

— Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, covers her head between games against Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, at the third round of the US Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York City. (Associated Press)

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, covers her head between video games towards Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, on the third spherical of the US Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York Metropolis. (Related Press)

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

“That is very exhausting to articulate,” she mentioned, resting her left cheek in her hand. “Principally, I really feel like I’m sort of at this level the place I’m attempting to determine what I need to do, and I actually don’t know once I’m going to play my subsequent 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 depart, “I feel I’m going to take a break from enjoying for some time.”

“I actually don’t know once I’m going to play my subsequent tennis match. … I feel I’m going to take a break from enjoying for some time.”

— Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, returns a shot to Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York City. (Associated Press)

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, returns a shot to Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, in the course of the third spherical of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York Metropolis. (Related Press)

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 considered one of 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 melancholy for 3 years.

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

Afterward, she in contrast that conduct to performing “sort of like a bit child.”

“I used to be telling myself to be calm, however I really feel like perhaps there was a boiling level,” Osaka mentioned. “Like, usually, I really feel like I like challenges. However not too long ago I really feel very anxious when issues don’t go my method, and I really feel like you possibly can really feel that.”

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

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

At the present time had that type of vibe: Earlier in Ashe, one other 18-year-old new to this territory surprisingly eradicated a No. Three 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 grow to be 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 successful streak at majors. Nonetheless, Fernandez declared: “Proper earlier than the match, I knew I used to be in a position to win.”

For Osaka, perhaps the time away from high-level competitors was a problem.

One other potential consider her failure to shut issues out whereas serving for the victory towards 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 satisfy within the second spherical, Olga Danilovic, withdrew with an sickness.

“I’ve by no means had a walkover in a Grand Slam, in order that was undoubtedly a extremely bizarre 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.

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

“Lastly, I discovered a sample to her serve,” Fernandez mentioned. “I simply trusted my intestine and hit the ball.”

 “I simply trusted my intestine and hit the ball.”

— Leylah Fernandez

Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Naomi Osaka, of Japan, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York City. (Associated Press)

Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Naomi Osaka, of Japan, in the course of the third spherical of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in New York Metropolis. (Related Press)

And so started Osaka’s downward spiral. She fell behind 5-Zero within the ensuing tiebreaker, lacking photographs and displaying her frustration as she sometimes has completed up 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 actually targeted on Naomi,” Fernandez mentioned. “I used to be solely targeted on myself, my sport, what I wanted to do.”

Extra 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.

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Fernandez, smiling and holding her proper fist overhead after the most important 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 harking back 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 placed on a present like I did tonight,” Fernandez mentioned, “and we’re going to see the way it goes.”

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