NEW YORK (Associated Press) — That’s the realization that Naomi Osaka has come to, gradually and only recently: If others think about her often, she probably does too.
“Hearing a little kid telling me that I’m their favorite player or that I’m a role model, instinctively, the first thought in my mind, like, ‘Why? “I feel I should kind of embrace more… the honor they tell me that, and I have to believe in myself more,” Osaka explained as Monday turned to Tuesday after a successful start to her US Open title. I feel that if you don’t believe in yourself, other people won’t believe in yourself.”
Returning to the Grand Slam after a mental health hiatus – a sometimes 6-4, 6-1 victory over 87th seed Marie Pozkova in the Czech Republic – Osaka heard the high-pitched voice of one of those “little ones”. Baby” at Arthur Ashe Playground.
When the match ended, Osaka went with a small gift: an athlete collecting pins.
With a bit of self-deprecation, Osaka noted that she didn’t stick to the Tokyo Games long enough to replace all those little souvenirs (a native of host nation Japan, she was given the honor of lighting the cauldron in at the opening ceremony, then lost her third-round match).
The Summer Olympics was their first competition anywhere since May 30 at the French Open.
On that day, Osaka skipped her mandatory press conference after winning the first round in Paris, where she was imposed a $15,000 fine and a warning from slam bosses that she could face a suspension. She responded by quitting Roland Garros, explaining that she worries when speaking to the media and has dealt with depression for years. Then Osaka was also knocked out of Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old is clearly an introspective and thoughtful person, someone who is getting more and more used to sharing her deepest thoughts with the rest of the world. In a post on social media On Sunday about ruminating about self-values, Osaka wrote that she would “try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more, I think we should all” and that she “can’t burden myself with (others) expectations anymore.”
Osaka said afterwards that she entered Ashe on Monday with her usual first-round slam jitters, but not from any sense of pressure to win.
Instead, it was based on the desire to play well, especially for Full house loud and appreciative It was there a year after she won the title in an almost empty arena because spectators were banned at the time amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I tell people that I am a perfectionist. I think for me that something is less than perfect, although it might be a great thing, it is a disappointment,” said third seed Osaka, who will face 145th seed Olga Danilovich, “I don’t really think this is the way to go.” Healthy thinking, so something I really wanted to change.”
“In this tournament, I just want to be happy knowing that I did my best and know that even though I didn’t play perfectly, I managed to win a match in two sets. … It’s like a thing in life,” she continued. “Like, I hope I can maintain that mentality my whole life going forward.”
Perhaps not perfect against Bozkova, who is now 1-11 in slam matches. After all, the result was 4 – everything is early. From there, Osaka has been knocked out in eight of its last nine matches.
With the help of a transmission that hit 120 mph, I saved all eight break points I encountered and earned a 34-10 advantage in total winners.
“Last year, when we didn’t have a crowd, I know I felt very lonely,” she said with a smile during her court interview. “I’m happy to see the little kids in the audience – and of course the adults too.”
Osaka has improved to 55-14 in major matches, including 22-3 at the US Open, as she is trying to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in New York since Serena Williams took her third straight in 2014.
Osaka beat Williams in the chaotic 2018 final at Ashe. She also won major hardcourt titles at the 2019 Australian Open and this February.
“I’ve played a lot of matches on this stadium,” Osaka told the Ashe crowd. “Sure, I feel really comfortable here.”
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