Naomi Osaka worried about Roland Garros return

There were fears entering a press conference that they couldn’t face a year ago.

But Naomi Osaka believes she is ready to play tennis and mentally fit enough to fulfill her media commitments.

“For the most part,” Osaka said on Friday, two days before their first-round match at the French Open. “I think I’m fine.”

The Japanese star answered questions for around 18 minutes in Paris, smiling often and thoughtfully in her responses, a year after she said she wouldn’t speak to reporters because it affects her well-being.

Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping media day of the 2021 tournament and her post-game press conference after a first-round win. Under mounting pressure and attention, Osaka withdrew from the French Open.

After a year that included work on her mental health, some tennis tournaments and some breaks, she has returned to Roland Garros in better shape.

“I won’t lie. When I came here I was very worried. I was just kind of worried if there were going to be people who – of course I didn’t like how I was handling the situation either – but I was worried that there were people I was kind of offending and I was just going to kind of hit them.” , Osaka told the media. “But I think everyone has been very positive for the most part. I’m not so sure. I was also very concerned about this press conference because I knew I would get a lot of questions about it.”

After she pulled out, Osaka cited “huge waves of fear” she had to deal with as she discussed and dissected her performance with the media. She remembers how she felt a year ago.

“For me, where I am right now, I wouldn’t want to say — I couldn’t get it out of my head,” Osaka told reporters. “Of course I’m still thinking about it.”

Osaka, who was the top-rated player at times, returns as world No. 38, largely due to a lack of tournaments over the past 12 months. She didn’t play Wimbledon and then lost at the US Open in September in the third round in a match where she threw her racquet. After the loss to Leylah Fernandez, she announced she would be taking another break from the sport “for a while.”

Naomi Osaka celebrates after beating Jennifer Brady of the United States in the women's singles final at the Australian Open
Naomi Osaka said returning to Roland Garros ‘worried’ her.
AP photo
naomi osaka speaks to media at roland garros
Osaka insisted she was doing better after taking several breaks over the past year.
Roland Garros

She then returned to the Australian Open in January, where she lost in the third round to 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova – who will be her first opponent at the French Open.

Most recently she withdrew from the Italian Open earlier this month due to pain in her left Achilles tendon.

“There’s no way I’m not playing this tournament, so of course you have to manage things. But at the same time, I’ll administer some painkillers. … I’ve actually played a lot of Grand Slams with something,” Osaka said. “So I think maybe there’s a possibility that if I have an injury I can play really well because I feel like I have nothing to lose.”

https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/2022-french-open-naomi-osaka-worried-over-roland-garros-return/ Naomi Osaka worried about Roland Garros return

JOE HERNANDEZ

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