Why Naomi Osaka's loss to Leylah Fernandez means so much
Defending US Open champ Naomi Osaka fell in the third round of the event in an upset loss to Leylah Fernandez. This has led to Osaka doubting her future as she might have to step away from professional tennis for a while.
The third-round loss was not supposed to happen to Osaka. She was the favourite heading into the event since she was the defending champ from 2020. Osaka is the biggest new star in tennis and her potential almost had no limits. Unfortunately, Osaka has suffered too many losses as of late and this can be attributed to her mental health problems.
Osaka first opened up about her issues during the lead-up to the French Open earlier in 2021. She stepped away from the tennis scene for a while and she made her return to her homeland of Japan at the Tokyo Games. Osaka suffered another upset loss in that event even though she was a favourite.
That has been the trend for Osaka’s 2021. She always appears to be the top dog of an event but she is always upset by lesser-known stars. In this US Open, Osaka lost to unseeded Leylah Fernandez. The Canadian proved her doubters wrong because she beat one of the best players in the world today.
This was a bad loss because Leylah is a good player but she is only 18 years of age. It was also obvious that Osaka was not in the right mind space. Her frustration was evident on her face.
In the presser after the match, Osaka addressed her feelings about the loss. She said, ‘I feel like for me recently, when I win I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose I feel very sad. And I don’t think that’s normal’.
She is hinting about stepping away from tennis for a while so she can hit the reset button. That is a good move for Osaka personally because she has more chances to fix her problems. In the meantime, this is big for the rest of the WTA Tour because one of their titans will go away for a while.
Words: Cholo Martin