‘Shocked Me’: Naomi Osaka Reflects on Mental Impact After Losing to Coco Gauff at Australian Open

Published 02/08/2021, 7:30 PM EST
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 24: Naomi Osaka of Japan speaks to media following her Women’s Singles third round defeat to Coco Gauff of the United States of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)


Naomi Osaka is now an established star on the WTA circuit. The 23-year-old has been consistent with her game, but she had to endure a tough phase in her career to build up confidence to perform better. The Japanese athlete mentioned that Coco Gauff played a major part in transforming her game. 

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Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka have met each other twice on the Tour so far. Both these matches came at Grand Slam events, and 16-year-old Gauff pulled off a stunning upset when they recently met at Australian Open 2020. 

Gauff cruised to victory in straight sets, and the loss shattered Osaka. The latter recently brought up memories about this match during her post-game press conference after Round 1 of the Australian Open 2021. 

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Tennis star Naomi Osaka of Japan practices at Melbourne Park in advance of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Naomi Osaka credits Coco Gauff for making her a better player

Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka are undeniably the future pillars of women’s tennis. Fans are widely celebrating their talents, and although Gauff is yet to win a Slam, she’s primed to do it in the near future. 

Osaka is always an athlete who seeks improvement in her game. The 23-year-old mentioned in a recent press conference that her loss to Coco Gauff had drastically affected her confidence and forced her to have a wider look at her career. 

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 05: Naomi Osaka of Japan shows her frustrations in her semi final match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine during day seven of the 2019 Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena on January 05, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“Honestly, I kinda have this whole ‘I need to do better, I need to sort of solidify my place and be consistent.’ And like somehow make other players respect me in that way. I’ve had it for that entire year, that whole 2019. And I think that also put a lot of pressure on me because I just felt like it was me against the world,” Osaka stated

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“But yeah, just after losing here to Coco, because she was sort of the person that I never wanted to lose to in this situation, just being, the defending champion and then, losing to her in such a high-profile match, I think it really like shocked me,” the three-time Grand Slam champion added. 

Gauff eased her way to a 6-3, 6-4 victory, and this defeat pushed Naomi Osaka to work harder. She wasn’t embarrassed about losing to a teenager, but the loss was integral in helping Osaka re-structure her competitive mentality.

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Arjun Athreya

1910 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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