Australian Open: Naomi Osaka proud despite Amanda Anisimova defeat

Naomi Osaka shakes hands with Amanda Anisimova after their Australian Open match
Naomi Osaka is set to drop outside of the world’s top 80 after being unable to defend a host of ranking points at the Australian Open
Dates: 17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.

Naomi Osaka says she feels “proud” of her approach and performance as she put the defeat which ended her Australian Open title defence into perspective.

The 24-year-old Japanese player held two match points before losing 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) to Amanda Anisimova.

Osaka, who was seeded 13th, twice took long breaks from the tour last season to protect her mental health.

“I fought for every point. I can’t be sad about that. You know, I’m not God. I can’t win every match,” she said.

“So I just have to take that into account and know that it would be nice to win the tournament.

“But that’s really special, you know, and I can’t think of myself to try to win the Grand Slam at the start of the year every time.”

Osaka happy with different attitude from New York loss

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka took a break from tennis after losing to eventual finalist Leylah Fernandez in the third round of September’s US Open.

That came after a turbulent year in which she said she would not do news conferences at the French Open to protect her mental health.

She later pulled out of the Grand Slam event and revealed she had experienced anxiety and depression since winning her first Grand Slam title in 2018 aged just 20.

Osaka also did not play at Wimbledon but returned to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, Cincinnati and US Open before taking the second break.

At an Australian Open warm-up tournament earlier this month, she said her main target for 2022 was “having fun” on the court.

Osaka, who also won the 2019 title, eased through her opening two matches at Melbourne Park and looked in command against Anisimova before her 20-year-old opponent turned the match around.

“For me, I feel like I grew a lot in this match,” said Osaka.

“The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude.

“I also know there are days that I’m going to have bad days, and there are days that I’m going to have great days.

“It’s always random, and I never know, but no matter what happens for me, I just want to leave the court knowing that I fought for every point.

“Today, of course there were things I felt I could improve on, but even with that, I had two match points, and I think that’s something that I can be proud of myself for.

“I think this for me is the biggest step, even though I lost. I think I was really focused throughout the entire match, and I didn’t have a dip. So that’s really good.”

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