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TENNIS | Naomi Osaka Exits U.S. Open in Third Round, Says She’s Mulling Another Break from the Game

“I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do,” she said, “and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match.”

Ed Odeven



Naomi Osaka hits a return to Leylah Fernandez in the U.S. Open women's singles third round on September 3 in New York. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)



Defending U.S. Open women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka’s title hopes ended in the third round against world No. 73 Leylah Fernandez on Friday, September 3 in New York.

Osaka was eliminated 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 by her 18-year-old Canadian opponent.

After the loss, the four-time Grand Slam champion and current world No. 3 said she’s considering taking another break from the sport. 

“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. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while,” a teary-eyed Osaka told reporters after the match.

“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief,” the 23-year-old added. “And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”

Osaka’s frustrations boiled over during the match. She tossed her racquet on one occasion and also hit it against the hard court on another instance.

Osaka pulled out of the French Open on May 31, a day after her first-round victory over Patricia Maria Tig. She was fined $15,000 for not speaking to reporters after the match, and announced before the tournament that she would boycott the media at the tournament, later saying she was coping with depression.

The Japanese-Haitian player made her comeback at the Tokyo Olympics after being selected to light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

Osaka, who won her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 U.S. Open, was bounced from the Olympic women’s singles tournament in the third round, losing 6-1, 6-4 to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. 

She defeated Czech player Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday, August 31. Osaka reached the third round by a walkover, after Serbian opponent Olga Danilova pulled out due to an illness.

Osaka captured her second U.S. Open title with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Victoria Azarenka last September.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.