"It's a little bit hard because I feel like people are staring at me, and not like in a good way," Naomi Osaka had said on hearing the criticism given on her getting rid of coach Sascha Bajin. Everyone had wondered seriously why when her rankings had gone from no.
68 to no. 1 and she had won three titles under his coaching: one at the 2018 Miami Open, the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open. It was a two-edged sword that cut into Naomi Osaka's game, the first tournament, the Dubai Duty Free Championships after deactivating her coach from her team.
Was it the fact that she'd lost her first game without Sascha Bajin or was it literally the idea of sacking him and nobody knows why? Osaka expresses a bit about the situation of her loss and being bashed on social media.
In Sporting News she says "..I don't know why this is happening. I don't really like the attention, so yeah, it's been a little tough." The Dubai championships took the hit as being the fall guy and it was tough on Naomi Osaka as she played opposite Kristina Mladenovic of France.
It was a lackluster performance all around by the 2018 U.S. Open champ in playing the unseeded Mladenovic as her game was sprinkled by a few great shots, too many unforced errors and unsteady play. The first set was a heartbreak, where even a sliced drop shot fell short on Osaka's side of the net.
But there were signs of the old Naomi Osaka within the first game: Winning a cross-court battle and then a down the liner. The Frenchwoman started breaking the young Japanese's confidence when she hit a winning acute-crosscourt shot of which Osaka was nowhere near to returning it.
The battle continued but there were a few good victory points to get on the scoreboard. Mladenovic lead 3-1 and her proof of more defiant and consistent shotmaking gave her the first set 6-3. The Australian Open champ thought she could start anew in the second set.
It almost worked as the blistering Naomi Osaka did rear her head out and bite the court with amazing shots of finding the open court and cross courting Mladenovic. The crowd was on her side and the screams of joy were everywhere.
But those nasty netted shots tore her game a shred as Osaka lost her opener by Mladenovic 6-3, 6-3. Everyone in that stadium knew that it wasn't the beautiful, wonderful plays of Mladenovic that captured the match, but the major blunders that contributed to Osaka's lost.
Ways that Osaka might silence the harsh critics on her sacking coach Sascha Bajin possibly in three steps: One, get another coach as soon as can be done. The talks, the guidance and psychological support are needed to stop her once a beautiful game from unravelling.
The second way is to keep up with the strategies that brought her victories and titles and start to focus in, listen to her inner self and positive crowd support. The third way is for Osaka to regroup by playing aggressive and take nothing on the court from opponents which should put her into a winning groove again.
"I'm pretty sure as time goes on you guys will stop talking about it. For now, it's like the biggest tennis news, I guess," Osaka commented matter-of-factly. The defining of Naomi Osaka should be short and temporary if she's to go on with her career.
Rising above the 'trash talk' and showing the goodies she can put on the court will turn this madness around to splendour again.