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Naomi Osaka has been in the news a lot recently, including here at OutKick. After refusing to do post-match interviews, she quit the French Open. Soon after, she withdrew her name and pulled out of Wimbledon, citing issues with anxiety and depression.
Since then, she’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she’s gotten a multi-part Netflix special, and she lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony just days ago. In other words, things seemed to be going pretty well for her.
That was until Monday night when the 23-year-old suffered a shocking defeat in the third round of the women’s singles. The 6-1, 6-4 loss in Tokyo came at the hands of Marketa Vondrousova, who is ranked No. 42 in the world. Yes, No. 42 unseated No. 2 at the Olympics. When I say shocking, I mean it.
Apparently, the long hiatus from playing and nerves about playing in her first Olympics took their toll. Or at least that’s what Osaka is saying.
“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” Osaka said afterwards, via Yahoo Sports. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much. I think I’m glad with how I played, with taking that break that I had.
“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well. I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher.
“I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”
According to Eleanor Crooks, a PA Tennis Correspondent covering the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Osaka originally planned to leave the site without talking to the media. Osaka said as much in an apparent social media post, but ultimately returned to answer questions.
“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” Osaka admitted.
That feels a lot more like Cam Newton after that Super Bowl 50 loss than it does someone with social anxiety. Star athletes never want to talk to the media after suffering a brutal loss, especially one that’s completely unexpected. But she did return for questions, however, so props for that.
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Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.