NEW YORK — Naomi Osaka appeared over at her agent and stated 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 once in a while as her voice acquired caught on her phrases and her eyes full of tears, stated Friday evening she is considering taking one other break from tennis “for some time.”
“I really feel like for me, just lately, once I win, I don’t really feel comfortable, I really feel extra like a reduction. After which once I lose, I really feel very unhappy,” Osaka stated at her information convention following a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 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 assume that is regular.”
“I really feel like for me, just lately, once I win, I don’t really feel comfortable, I really feel extra like a reduction. After which once I lose, I really feel very unhappy.”
The moderator in control of the session with reporters tried to chop issues off, however Osaka stated she wished to proceed.
“That is very arduous to articulate,” she stated, resting her left cheek in her hand. “Mainly, I really feel like I’m type of at this level the place I’m attempting to determine what I wish 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 go away, “I believe 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 believe I’m going to take a break from enjoying for some time.”
This was the primary Slam event 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 one among 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 closing — and a yr in the past, plus two extra on the arduous courts of the Australian Open. When she took a hiatus after Roland Garros, she revealed that she endures waves of tension earlier than assembly with the media and has handled melancholy for 3 years.
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 totally 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 online. Then got here a full-on spike close to the baseline.
Afterward, she in contrast that habits to appearing “type of like a bit child.”
“I used to be telling myself to be calm, however I really feel like possibly there was a boiling level,” Osaka stated. “Like, usually, I really feel like I like challenges. However just lately I really feel very anxious when issues don’t go my means, and I really feel like you may really feel that.”
Her recreation was off. Her recreation face was gone. By the tip, the gang 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 form of vibe: Earlier in Ashe, one other 18-year-old new to this territory surprisingly eradicated a No. 3 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 profitable streak at majors. Nonetheless, Fernandez declared: “Proper earlier than the match, I knew I used to be in a position to win.”
For Osaka, possibly the time away from high-level competitors was a difficulty.
One other doable think about 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 fulfill 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 very bizarre feeling,” Osaka stated.
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 monitor for the same conclusion within the second set, main 6-5 and serving. However when Osaka sailed a forehand extensive, Fernandez had her first break of the match to make it 6-all.
“Lastly, I discovered a sample to her serve,” Fernandez stated. “I simply trusted my intestine and hit the ball.”
“I simply trusted my intestine and hit the ball.”
And so started Osaka’s downward spiral. She fell behind 5-0 within the ensuing tiebreaker, lacking photographs and displaying her frustration as she sometimes has executed 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 stated. “I used to be solely targeted on myself, my recreation, what I wanted to do.”
Extra to the purpose, Osaka was not at her finest. 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.
Fernandez, smiling and holding her proper fist overhead after the most important of factors, actually 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 paying homage 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 stated, “and we’re going to see the way it goes.”