Naomi Osaka Melts Down During U.S. Open Match, Announces Break from Tennis

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On Friday at the U.S. Open, tennis star Naomi Osaka repeatedly got frustrated in her third-round match and broke down in her post-game interview.

The defending U.S. Open champion struggled to keep her composure in New York yesterday. During her third-round match against Canadian Leylah Fernandez, Osaka took an early lead winning the first set. Yet things went downhill from there, and now the young tennis star’s career seems to be uncertain.

In the second set, the wheels fell off for Naomi Osaka. Fernandez’s performance led the 23-year-old Japanese player to scream in frustration and throw her racket multiple times. In addition, following her second set loss, Osaka stormed off the court before later returning.

However, upon her return, the crowd began to cheer and encourage Osaka’s opponent. Naomi’s struggles continued almost immediately as she surprisingly double-faulted to begin the third set. She never got going after that and ended up losing the match to Fernandez, which brought her hopes of winning back-to-back titles to a close.

In Osaka’s subsequent post-match interview, the young tennis player broke down in tears. Her issues with anxiety and depression have been made very public in recent history. She withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon entirely to focus on her mental health. But in her open and honest post-match interview, Osaka admitted she’s still struggling. Additionally, she said she may take a break from tennis altogether.

“I feel like I’m 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,” Naomi Osaka revealed in the interview.

For now, it looks like Osaka’s once bright tennis career could be on hold indefinitely. At a minimum, her future in the sport is uncertain.

Naomi Osaka Withdraws from French Open, Skips Wimbledon

Previous to Naomi Osaka’s U.S. Open meltdown yesterday, she faced backlash for her media boycott at the French Open in May. The athlete chose not to attend her post-match press conference in Paris, and immediately garnered criticism for her absence. Shockingly she withdrew from the entire tournament not long after.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Naomi Osaka wrote in a statement. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”

“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she added.

Osaka spoke openly about her mental health issues and the need to focus on herself instead of tennis. Therefore she decided to sit out the next grand slam tournament at Wimbledon.

She revealed further details with Time magazine about her French Open experience. In an essay for the outlet, the tennis star explained that she felt pressure to announce specific details about her mental state.

“In my case, I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms — frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me,” she wrote. “I do not wish that on anyone and hope that we can enact measures to protect athletes.”