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Rediff.com  » Sports » 'Mature' Osaka reflects on breakthrough year

'Mature' Osaka reflects on breakthrough year

October 26, 2018 18:59 IST

'I feel like I'm more... I wouldn't say confident but I'm more, like, I have inner peace. I don't know. Like zen. I don't really want to use words I don't know. But like I can go inside myself and be like peaceful, so I think maybe in the beginning of the year I was very uncertain with what I was doing. But now I feel a bit more calm.'

Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after retiring from her group stage match against Netherlands' Kiki Bertens due to injury during the WTA Tour Finals at Singapore Indoor Stadium, in Kallang, Singapore on Friday

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after retiring from her group stage match against Netherlands' Kiki Bertens due to injury during the WTA Tour Finals at Singapore Indoor Stadium, in Kallang, Singapore on Friday. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Naomi Osaka crashed out of the WTA Finals when a tight hamstring consigned the US Open champion to a third straight defeat in her tournament debut on Friday, but the rising Japanese star was still keen to reflect on what has been a brilliant campaign.

The 21-year-old made her Grand Slam breakthrough in New York last month and followed up with a run to the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo and the China Open semi-finals, but a leg injury in Singapore ruined any chance she had of adding to that success.

 

"It's been a crazy year, I think," Osaka told reporters after retiring from her final group match following the loss of the first set to Kiki Bertens on Friday.

"It started in Australia with a run to the fourth round when I did better in a Grand Slam than I have done before. And then, of course, I won in Indian Wells before doing nothing until the US Open basically," she added with a smile.

"And then from US Open a lot has happened, so I don't know. It feels like it went up and then it went sort of down and then in a straight line and then went up again.

"For me, it's just been a lot of new experiences. I'm very grateful that I was able to have the opportunities that I had. For sure, I feel like I have matured. I hope I can say that."

The emotional roller-coaster of her Flushing Meadows victory against Serena Williams, when the American became embroiled in a furious row with the chair umpire, had helped in her development, Osaka said.

"I witnessed some stuff. That's for sure," she added.

"I feel like I'm more... I wouldn't say confident but I'm more, like, I have inner peace. I don't know. Like zen. I don't really want to use words I don't know.

"But like I can go inside myself and be like peaceful, so I think maybe in the beginning of the year I was very uncertain with what I was doing. But now I feel a bit more calm."

Looking ahead to her off-season, Osaka said she was glad to be getting some time off the court but worried that she might soon grow bored of the inactivity.

"I was told I shouldn't really do much. I should just rest for a few weeks. So I think that's what I'm going to do," she said of the injury.

"I'm looking forward to going back home (to Florida). I haven't been home since the US Open. So definitely looking forward to going back.

"I feel like I'll rest. But for me, whenever I rest, the first day I'm happy I'm home because I'm just laying down and not doing anything, but then the second day I'm really bored and I start thinking I want to play again.

"I have never really had a vacation. So, yeah, I guess it will be interesting to see how that goes."

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