“That’s Only Going to Exacerbate”: John McEnroe Raises Concerns Over Naomi Osaka Ahead of US Open 2021

Published 08/27/2021, 11:51 PM EDT
Aug 19, 2021; Mason, OH, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts during a change of ends against Jil Teichmann (SUI) during the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


Fans can’t keep calm as the iconic US Open 2021 edges closer with every passing day. Graced with a star-studded line-up, the tournament guarantees some enthralling action. The third seed at the tournament, Naomi Osaka, is one of the giants this year, defending the title against a few of the games’ absolute best. However, her current run of form isn’t so promising.

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Earlier this year, Naomi Osaka returned to the sport after an unprecedented break. Making her maiden appearance at the Olympic games, she suffered a disappointing exit in the early rounds.

Regardless, courtesy of her stature, American tennis legend, John McEnroe predicted a bright future for the World No. 3. Although, he expressed his concerns for her while at it.

Success is guaranteed, but…

Naomi is one of the most happening Gen Z stars on the circuit. A popular face on tour, she burst onto the scene with her first WTA tour win at Indian Wells in 2018. Ever since, it’s been upwards and onwards for the Japanese sensation, until recently. Naomi found herself at the heart of controversy when she opted out of the Roland Garros, citing her mental health reasons.

As a former World No. 1 himself, John made a bold prediction for Osaka, while expressing his concern for the star as well. He said, “Well, she’s won four majors, so she knows how to win the big ones. I believe that will happen again in the future.”

“However, my concern is, even though I think she showed a lot of courage in a lot of ways to bring to the forefront mental health, my feeling is unfortunately that’s only going to exacerbate, make worse the attention that’s going to be put on her.” 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 2 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after winning her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland REUTERS/Mike Segar

“They’re going to look at her even more carefully, whether it’s the press, fans, everyone around the sport. That’s going to make it, I think, more difficult, not easier. That’s the part that I’m worried about,” he added.

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Huge boost for Naomi Osaka

Ahead of the US Open, the USTA recently announced more enhanced measures assuring the mental well-being of its players. Naomi’s decision in Paris, which started a worldwide conversation over athletes and their mental health, finally showed its flourishing results. However, is it enough to give the youngster the extra push she needs?

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis Training – Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan – July 19, 2021 Naomi Osaka of Japan during training REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Undoubtedly, it’s been a tough year for the 4-time Grand Slam champion. Ever since her title win at the Australian Open, she has seen a dip in her form. With many already speculating that her career has gone off the rails, can Naomi emerge victorious on the courts where it all started? Or are fans in for yet another disappointing outing?

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Melroy Fernandes

280 articles

Melroy Joseph Fernandes is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. A Mass Media graduate, Melroy has been a content writer for the past 6 years, curating stories for several brands, starting from his own. At the age of 17, Melroy began his writing Journey with Team BIB, an event management company for everything Art and Entertainment.

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