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Naomi Osaka opens up on fear of media as she outlines change in perspective after beating Coco Gauff in Cincinnati | Tennis News


Raz Mirza

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Naomi Osaka explained her fears of facing the media as well as outlining her new perspective; the four-time Grand Slam champion said: “I think definitely this whole COVID thing was really stressful with the bubbles and not seeing people, not having interactions”

Last Updated: 19/08/21 1:01pm


Naomi Osaka explained why she fears press conferences after defeating Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

Naomi Osaka explained why she fears press conferences after defeating Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

Naomi Osaka explained why she fears press conferences after defeating Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

Naomi Osaka said she would rather be her than “anyone else in the world” as she outlined her changing perspective on press conferences after a superb comeback win against American teenager Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The Japanese was left in tears earlier in the week by a question from Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty when she faced the media for the first time since withdrawing from this year’s French Open for mental health reasons.

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, was back answering questions after she battled back from a set and a break down to edge out American teenager Gauff 4-6 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

“I guess seeing the state of the world, how everything is in Haiti, how everything is in Afghanistan right now, is definitely really crazy, and for me to just be hitting a tennis ball in the United States and have people come and watch me play is, I don’t know, I would want to be myself in this situation rather than anyone else in the world.”

Naomi Osaka

And the 23-year-old appeared ready to reassess her relationship with the media as she drew a comparison between her status as an exalted athlete and those affected by the deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Haiti and political crisis in Afghanistan.

Asked about a change in outlook, which she mentioned in her on-court interview after beating Gauff, Osaka said: “Honestly, I was thinking about this since the last time I sat here. I was wondering why was I so affected, I guess, like what made me not want to do media in the first place.

“Then I was thinking, I’m wondering if I was scared because sometimes I would see headlines of players losing and then the headline the next day would be like a collapse or they’re not that great anymore. So then I was thinking me waking up every day, for me, I should feel like I’m winning.

“The choice to go out there and play, to go see fans that people come out and watch me play, that itself is an accomplishment. And I’m not sure when along the way I started desensitising that. It started not being like an accomplishment for me. So I felt like I was very ungrateful on that fact.

“I think definitely this whole COVID thing was really stressful with the bubbles and not seeing people, not having interactions.

“I guess seeing the state of the world, how everything is in Haiti, how everything is in Afghanistan right now, is definitely really crazy, and for me to just be hitting a tennis ball in the United States and have people come and watch me play is, I don’t know, I would want to be myself in this situation rather than anyone else in the world.”

Osaka hopes her rivalry with teenager Gauff can one day eclipse that of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Osaka hopes her rivalry with teenager Gauff can one day eclipse that of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Having lost the opening set to 17-year-old Gauff, she showed plenty of mettle to fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the second set to turn the match on its head, dropping just a a single point on serve in the third set.

Osaka gained revenge for her Australian Open defeat to Gauff earlier in the year, but she hopes the pair can eventually build a rivalry as big as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the men’s game.

“For me, as her opponent, playing her, I really love that atmosphere to just see so many people being engaged in the match is really nice,” said Osaka.

“I’m excited when I hear that it’s a rivalry. I think rivalries build the sport, like Federer-Nadal definitely did amazing things for tennis, so it would be amazing to have something like that on the woman’s side.”

Osaka will next face wildcard Jil Teichmann in the round of 16 after the Swiss defeated fellow wildcard Bernarda Pera 6-1 6-4.

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