“I Changed My Mindset” – Naomi Osaka Opens up on Hardships After Narrow Win at Cincinnati Open 2021

Published 08/18/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
Aug 18, 2021; Mason, OH, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) reacts after returning a shot against Cori Gauff (USA) during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


The ongoing Cincinnati Open is the first WTA tournament Naomi Osaka is taking part in since her withdrawal from the French Open in May. While her withdrawal from the clay court Grand Slam placed a spotlight on mental health issues, she also received support from all corners of the globe.

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Earlier today, the 23-year-old faced a stern test in American teenager Coco Gauff in the second round. Despite her initial wobbles, she made it to the third round on the back of a solid recovery after the first set.

After the game, Osaka admitted she changed her mindset during the time she spent away from the sport.

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Naomi Osaka sums up her feelings after defeating Coco Gauff

During her match with Gauff, the World No. 2 made several unforced errors. For a fan following Osaka throughout her career, her performance in the first set was an anomaly, given her prowess on hard courts. In fact, all four of her Grand Slam victories came on hard courts.

After losing the first set 4-6, the Japanese star bounced back to win the next two sets, and the match in convincing fashion. Given her first victory after returning to the WTA tour came against Gauff, she sent a signal of intent to her competition.

After skipping the press conference at the French Open in May, she revealed she suffered from depression. During the post-match press conference today, she admitted even if she lost today, she would walk away a winner. In addition, she revealed just getting through the days is a victory for her.

She said“I’ve had a really weird year. I think some of you know what happened to me this year. I changed my mindset a lot. Even if I lost I would have felt that I’m a winner. There’s so much stuff going on in the world…. just waking up in the morning is a win.”

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Osaka will face Jil Teichmann in Round 3 of the Cincinnati Open

The 23-year-old will take on wildcard Jil Teichmann to try securing a spot in the quarterfinals.

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

With less than two weeks for the US Open to begin, Osaka will look to go one step further from her performance here last year, where she finished runner-up to Victoria Azarenka. A win in Cincinnati could help her regain confidence ahead of her title defence in Flushing Meadows.

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WATCH STORY: Naomi Osaka’s Best Moments at Australian Open 2021: From Saving Match Points to Lifting the Title

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Sanket Nair

624 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management graduate, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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