‘I Think About the Michael Jordan Flu Game’ – Naomi Osaka Says She Never Wants to Retire With an Injury Again

Published 05/03/2022, 2:09 AM EDT
Mar 31, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Naomi Osaka (JPN) is overcome with emotion after her match against Belinda Bencic (SUI)(not pictured) in a women’s singles semifinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The year hasn’t gone the way Naomi Osaka would have liked to. The Japanese tennis star suffered a shocking third-round defeat against Amanda Anisimova at the Australian Open. Subsequently, she had a disappointing run at the BNP Paribas Open. The 24-year-old lost in the second round in Indian Wells, going down in straight sets against Veronika Kudermetova. However, she had a decent run at the Miami Open, finishing second-best to Iga Swiatek.

Further, Naomi was in Spain this week to participate at the Madrid Open. She bowed out of the tournament in the second round, losing in straight sets against the local favorite, Sara Sorribes Tormo. During an interview, she opened up about playing with injuries.

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Naomi Osaka talks about balancing her playing time during injuries

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During the post-match press conference after her second-round defeat, Naomi revealed about playing with injuries. She said, “Yeah, for me, honestly, like I don’t want to like retire because of injury again in my career. Because like, you know, like sometimes I think about the Michael Jordan Flu Game, I’m like, I should be like that too.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 03: Naomi Osaka of Japan looks dejected during her match against. Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the third round of the women’s singles at the US Open at the USTA. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 03, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Further, she added, “But yeah, I mean, there is always like caution in your mind, but for me, I want to see what happens if I push through it. I want to know the type of — it’s not relief, but like the feeling that I would have if I were to ever be like injured quite badly and still be able to push through the match.”

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In a match lasting just under an hour and a half, the Spaniard dominated the match from start to end to prevail over Osaka 6-3, 6-1. Osaka suffered a left calf injury during the second set which affected her performance. Nonetheless, it was an emotional victory for Sara Sorribes Tormo, producing her best result in Madrid. In the pre-quarterfinals, she’ll take on Daria Kasatkina. Their match will take place later today.

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Vatsal Shah

661 articles

Vatsal Shah is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in engineering, he is a die hard fan of tennis and sports in general. He is an ardent follower of Rafael Nadal and is inspired by his never-say-die attitude.

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