‘I’m not sure we’re going to see the great Naomi Osaka again,’ says former world No 1.
Naomi Osaka leaves the court
There are major question marks over Naomi Osaka’s tennis playing future with two former world No 1s admitting “it’s going to be tough for her” to regain her old form.
Osaka’s Australian Open title defence came to an end in the third round as she was beaten in three-sets by big-hitting American Amanda Anisimova.
The four-time Grand Slam winner, who returned to competitive tennis for the Australian summer following a long absence in 2021 in order to focus on her mental health, was philosophical after her defeat, stating: “I fought for every point. I can’t be sad about that. I’m not God. I can’t win every match.
“So I just have to take that into account and know that it would be nice to win the tournament, but that’s really special and I can’t think of myself to try to win the Grand Slam at the start of the year every time.”
However, former world No 1 Mats Wilander has warned that we may have seen the last of Osaka the major winner.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to ever see the great Naomi Osaka, who’s going to win Grand Slam tournaments, again,” the Swede said on the Eurosport Cube.
“But I think it’s really important we realise that it’s going to be tough for her.
“I don’t think we should expect Osaka of old to be back and I think she needs to look forwards.”
Osaka opened up about her struggles with depression and anxiety following her withdrawal from the French Open last year with the Japanese star opting to skip press conferences in order to protect her mental health.
Another former world No 1 John McEnroe believes her decision to speak up about her struggles is going to impact her in the future.
“It is an extremely difficult position she has in some ways put herself in,” he said.
“Bringing the concept of mental health to the forefront of the conversation is a great idea, but it has brought attention to her.
“However, now we’re going to be discussing in more detail how is she going to handle losing match points? How is she going to handle losing early? Is she going to play a lot of events before the French Open? Will she play Wimbledon?
“She is going to have a lot more light on her and she is going to have to be prepared to handle that.”