Naomi Osaka admits she has not enjoyed playing tennis since winning the Australian Open and has described the last few months as the worst of her life.
The 21-year-old won her second consecutive grand slam title at Melbourne Park in January, making her the new world number one, but expectation has weighed heavily ever since.
A shock split from coach Sascha Bajin immediately after the Australian Open was another factor, and Osaka has not reached the final of any tournament since.
The Japanese player wrote on Twitter: “The last few months for me have been really rough tennis wise, but thankfully I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me back (hopefully hahaha). In that regard I’m very thankful for them because whenever things go wrong I blame myself 100%.
“I have a tendency to shut down because I don’t want to burden anyone with my thoughts or problems but they taught me to trust them and not take everything on by myself.
“Unexpectedly, though, the worst months of my life have also had some of the best moments cause I’ve met new people and been able to do things that I’ve never even considered doing before.
“That being said I can honestly reflect and say I probably haven’t had fun playing tennis since Australia and I’m finally coming to terms with that while relearning that fun feeling.”
Osaka’s grand slam winning run ended with a third-round loss to Katerina Siniakova at the French Open, while the grass season saw her lose her number one ranking to Ashleigh Barty and crash out in the first round of Wimbledon to Yulia Putintseva.
Following that loss, Osaka answered a few questions in a monosyllabic press conference before cutting it short, telling the moderator she was about to cry.
She will return to action at the Rogers Cup in Toronto next week, and Osaka said: “I’ve put so much weight on the results of my matches instead of learning from them, which is what I “normally” do.
“Having this time to reflect and think (from losing in the first round lololol), I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel like I grew so much as a person in the past year(s) so I’m really excited what the future looks like on and off the court.”