Sunday, July 3, 2022

French Open 2022: Naomi Osaka loses in first round, says she’s unsure about participating in Wimbledon

Naomi Osaka’s hopes to win the 2022 French Open were dashed quickly as she fell to Amanda Anisimova in straight sets 7-5, 6-4 in the first round. That was a rematch from when Anisimova beat Osaka in the third round of this year’s Australian Open.

Even though Osaka didn’t get the result she hoped for, she still said she left Paris in a much better way than last year. Osaka pulled out of the 2021 tournament before the second round due to mental health concerns. Returning this year wasn’t easy, but she was happy she decided to do it. 

“These past few weeks in Europe have been a real character test but I’m glad I came,” Osaka wrote on social media. “Overall just really happy this year I’m leaving with a completely different emotion than the previous one.”

As she wrapped up her clay court season, Osaka also discussed the upcoming grass season and her unsure thoughts regarding Wimbledon, due to no points being offered this year. Her decision is not final yet, but the Japanese star said she is leaning toward not participating.

The WTA took away ranking points from Wimbledon after banning Russian and Belarusian athletes. Osaka said that decision is making the tournament feel like an abnormal competition.

“I’m not sure why, but I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition,” she said. “I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just like feels that way. Whenever I think something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100 percent. I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances, but that might change.”

The four-time Grand Slam winner did not participate in Wimbledon last year due to the aforementioned mental health break. Due to missing a significant amount of time for that, and also because of an Achilles injury, Osaka entered this year’s French open at 38th in the WTA rankings. 

She said she is in a better place mentally now and wants to keep gaining experience. However, she also admitted she would rather get a chance to improve her ranking at Wilmbelton due to her competitive nature.

“I would say the decision is kind of affecting my mentality coming into grass. I’m not 100 percent sure if I’m gonna go there,” she said. “I would love to go just to get some experience on the grass court, but at the same time for me — it’s kind of like, I don’t want to say pointless, no pun intended, but I’m the type of player that gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up or stuff like that.”

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