Patrick McEnroe is rooting for Naomi Osaka to find a good balance between mental health and her tennis career as he feels the Japanese still has the ability to be among the very best players in the game. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, hasn't really played that much since going public with her battle with depression and anxiety during the 2021 French Open.
This year, 25-year-old Osaka appeared in a total of 11 tournaments. Osaka, a former world No 1, has indicated several times over the last year and a half that her mental health is her top priority right now. Earlier this year, Osaka made the Miami final before losing to Iga Swiatek.
In Miami, Osaka showed some of her old brilliance and that was the moment when the tennis community agreed the game would benefit from having the Japanese competing again on a high level again. Many believe that Osaka is still one of the most talented players in the game but that she just needs to play more in order to return to her old level.
McEnroe: Osaka has the ability to be a top player for a long time
"It'd be nice if she could find a balance of what's helping her be a better person in her own mind but also still be a top tennis player. Once you come to some realization about who you are, Andre Agassi, we know what he went through, and then he came out on the other side.
Even Serena, midway through her career, was like, 'I'm gonna be a Hollywood star and I'm gonna do other things.' But then she was like, 'Wait a second, I want to be the best tennis player I can be. What can I do to be the best possible tennis player I can be, while still being healthy mentally?' It does take a single-mindedness at some level to get the most out of whatever your ability is.
Just watching her as a tennis player, she's got the ability to absolutely be at the top of the game for a long time. When it first happened at the French Open, I didn't think it was handled well by the FFT and the other Majors supporting her.
To be honest, I don't think she (Naomi Osaka) has ever recovered from that. When you look at her results, you see different posts from her, all sort of positive messaging. But at the end of the day, you wonder if the whole process she had to have gone through is not helping her be the best player she can be," McEnroe said on the Holding Court with Patrick McEnroe podcast, per Sportskeeda. It remains to be seen if Osaka will play more in 2023 and eventually return to her old level.