Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal
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Naomi Osaka says she’s “pretty happy” with how she’s playing as she pretends to defend her US Open title at Flushing Meadows next week. It’s been a turbulent year for Osaka, who withdrew from this season’s French Open and then didn’t enter Wimbledon due to ongoing mental health issues, and her return to action ended in early exits at the Olympics and in Cincinnati.
However, speaking on media day, the 23-year old still declared herself “pretty confident” ahead of a first round clash with Marie Bouzkova next Monday.
“I feel pretty happy with how I’m playing,” said the four-time Grand Slam champion.
“I thought I played two really tough matches in Cincinnati. Of course I’m not, like, declaring that I’ll do amazing here. For me, I’m the one-match-at-a-time like person.
“I know I haven’t played that many matches. I know that I haven’t even gotten to a quarterfinal. I feel pretty confident with where I am right now.”
Osaka also addressed the return of spectators, admitting she was apprehensive about the reaction she may get.
“It will definitely feel a bit different. I don’t really know how to describe it, but I kind of had to get over the feeling of people’s gazes feeling a bit different to me,” she said.
“At the same time I started to tell myself that it is what it is. I did what I did, so I can’t really change people’s perception on me.
“It might make me feel a little bit nervous. But first rounds always make me feel a little nervous.
“Maybe I can just attribute it to that. I guess I’ll find out when I’m in that situation. I feel like there’s a lot of things that I did wrong in that moment (withdrawing from Roland Garros), but I’m also the type of person that’s very in the moment.
“There’s a lot of things that I learned to do better. Of course, I don’t feel the same situation will happen again.”
Osaka beat Victoria Azarenka in the 2020 final and also triumphed in an infamous final with Serena Williams in 2018, becoming the first Japanese competitor to win a Grand Slam singles title in the process.
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