Osaka in spotlight as US Open begins

New York

Naomi Osaka launches her bid for a third US Open title in four years on Monday, aiming to put turmoil behind her as she chases her second Grand Slam title of 2021.

Osaka, who rocketed to fame when she beat superstar Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final, appeared set for a sparkling 2021 campaign after she beat American Jen Brady in the Australian Open final in February to capture her fourth major crown.

But she has played sparingly since, pulling out of the French Open after she was fined for failing to meet mandatory media requirements.

Osaka, who said she believed post-match news conferences were detrimental to her mental health, opted out of Wimbledon as well, and after the magical moment of lighting the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics bowed out in the third round.

Although she also lost in the third round at Cincinnati in August, Osaka said she was ‘pretty happy’ with her game heading into the high-pressure atmosphere of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

As she looked ahead to her Monday opener against Czech Marie Bouzkova Osaka said in a social media post that she wants to start to savor her accomplishments and let go of negative thoughts.

‘Recently I’ve been asking myself why do I feel the way I do and I realize one of the reasons is because internally I think I’m never good enough,’ she wrote.

‘I never tell myself that I’ve done a good job, but I do know I constantly tell myself that I suck or I could do better.

‘Seeing everything that’s going on in the world I feel like if I wake up in the morning that’s a win,’ Osaka wrote. ‘Your life is your own and you shouldn’t value yourself on other people’s standards.

I know I give my heart to everything I can and if that’s not good enough for some then my apologies but I can’t burden myself with those expectations anymore.’—APP

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