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“Back On Court” Naomi Osaka ready to defend her Australian Open title

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka announced on social media on Friday that she is “back” on the tennis court after a heart-breaking US Open departure two months ago and declaring that she was taking a break from competitive tennis. The four-time Grand Slam champion from Japan recently shared two images of herself on the court with a racket, one of which showed her in training gear.

“Kinda rusty but feels good to be back,” Osaka tweeted with the photos. “I really want to say thank you everyone for all the kind messages, I really appreciate it.”

It was a stark contrast to her appearance and sentiments on September 3 in New York, when she expressed dissatisfaction regarding playing tennis after her defeat to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez and a bitter third-round exit from the US Open.

Naomi Osaka post exit from US Open

Naomi Osaka

The 24-year-old of Haitian and Japanese descent had said she wanted to take a break from competitive tennis “for a while” following her U.S. Open exit.

“I’m dealing with some stuff,” and then elaborated on her emotional turmoil. 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,” Osaka said. “I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.

“Basically 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. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

In May, the four-time Grand Slam winner withdrew from the French Open ahead of her second-round match when she decided to not attend a news conference and revealed her struggle with depression.

She skipped Wimbledon before competing in the Tokyo Olympics in late July, when she lighted the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, however she was eliminated in the third round.

Osaka gearing up for Australian Open

Osaka, indeed, has not played a WTA event since losing in New York. Her tweet provided no hint of when and where she might return. In early October, Osaka, whose only tour title this year came in her second Australian Open win in February, fell outside the top 10 in the WTA women’s singles rankings for the first time in over three years and currently sits 13th.

World number 13 Osaka, who celebrated her 24th birthday last month, is the reigning champion at the Australian Open, which is set to start in Melbourne on 17 January.

Since losing in New York, Osaka has not competed in a WTA event. Her earlier tweet provided no indication of when or where she might return. Osaka, who won her second Australian Open title in February – her only tour title for the season, slipped out of the top 10 in the WTA women’s singles rankings for the first time in almost three years in early October and is ranked 13th at present.

Osaka, who turned 24 this month, is the defending winner of the Australian Open – the first Grand Slam of the year, which is set to commence on January 17 in Melbourne.

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