Osaka says she's taking a break from tennis after imploding in New York

New York, New York - Naomi Osaka's short-term future appears away from the tennis court after the tearful former world number one said she plans to "take a break from playing for a while" following her shock US Open elimination.

Naomi Osaka said she is stepping away from the court indefinitely after her performance at the US Open.
Naomi Osaka said she is stepping away from the court indefinitely after her performance at the US Open.  © Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo

Osaka's US Open title defense came to a remarkable end after imploding in Friday's surprise 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 loss to teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez.

Up a set and serving for the match at 6-5 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Osaka lost her cool and composure after throwing her racquet three times in an unsuccessful second-set tie-break.

Amid boos in New York, Osaka was also warned after hitting a ball into the crowd and while the four-time major champion tried to dig herself out of a hole, she crashed out in incredible fashion.

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It comes following a difficult couple of months due to mental health concerns as a result of "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open.

Osaka withdrew from May's French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

The Japanese star subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon before returning for the Olympic Games, though she suffered a surprise loss on home soil in Tokyo and was reduced to tears during a news conference in Cincinnati.

Osaka's post-match comments included an apology and anxiety

Naomi Osaka gave the peace sign as she walked off of the court after losing to Leylah Fernandez at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday.
Naomi Osaka gave the peace sign as she walked off of the court after losing to Leylah Fernandez at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

During an emotional post-match news conference on Friday, Osaka told reporters: "I'm going to say what we said, I think, like, in the hallway. How do I go around saying this?

"I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal. I didn't really want to cry.

"I feel like… this is very hard to articulate. 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 [tearing up]. Sorry."

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Osaka – who was bidding to become the first woman to defend the US Open since Serena Williams in 2014 – added: "I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."

Typically reserved and quiet, Osaka was uncharacteristically frustrated on court – the 23-year-old immediately left the court and emerged with a towel over her head before the start of the final set.

On her outburst, Osaka said: "I'm really sorry about that. I'm really sorry about that. I'm not really sure why.

"I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point. Like normally, I feel like I like challenges. But recently I feel very anxious when things don't go my way, and I feel like you can feel that. I'm not really sure why it happens the way it happens now.

"It's basically why. You could kind of see that. I was kind of like a little kid," Osaka added.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo

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