WTA (Women's Tennis Association)

Naomi Osaka sorry for ‘sulking’ and ‘childish attitude’ in Brisbane defeat, and promises to be more mature

  • Japanese star loses in Brisbane International semi-finals to Lesia Tsurenko
  • US Open champion shows frustrations as she kicks the air and drops racquet
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 4:35pm

Naomi Osaka has apologised on social media after an on-court meltdown during her Brisbane International semi-final exit.

The 21-year-old was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by Lesia Tsurenko at the Pat Rafter Arena in the Australian Open warm-up event, before announcing she has withdrawn from next week’s Sydney International without giving a reason.

“I had the worst attitude on court today,” Osaka wrote on Twitter. “Sorry to everyone that watched. I keep telling myself to be more mature but it seems like it’ll take a while.”

“Thank you @BrisbaneTennis for a great week regardless,” she added in another tweet. “Last time I was here I was a qualifier. I feel pretty good about the improvement.”

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Osaka, who won her maiden grand slam at last summer’s US Open, will return to the world No 4 ranking and be seeded fourth in Melbourne for the first major of 2019.

But she was visibly frustrated as she struggled with her rhythm from the start of her defeat by 2018 Flushing Meadows quarter-finalist Tsurenko.

“If I’m being really frank, I just feel like I had the worst attitude today,” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “I feel like I didn’t really know how to cope with not playing well.

“I was sulking a little bit, and there are moments that I tried not to do that. But then the ball wouldn’t go in, and then I would go back to being childish and stuff.”

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Osaka complained to her coach Sascha Bajin during a changeover that there was “something wrong in my head” and that she was “putting myself in the situation that either I win the match or I die”.

The Japanese star made just 45 per cent of her first serves in the opening set and did not get a break point chance until late in the second set.

She wasted two of those by committing a string of unforced errors, with Tsurenko holding for 4-2, and also kicked the air and dropped her racquet to the court after more mistakes.

“I feel like last year I did a lot of that, and I’m trying to change it more, and I think I have, towards the end of last year,” she added. “So hopefully this isn’t a reoccurring thing.

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“I feel like, in a way, that this experience for me is better than winning the tournament, because this helpless feeling I have, I think today I learned sort of what I have to do to, not fix it, but what I can do to improve the situation so there aren’t many moments that I feel like that.”

Victory over the 27th-ranked Tsurenko would have seen Osaka move up the world No 3 – a ranking no Japanese player has ever achieved.

“I feel like today was a very valuable lesson,” she said. “Regarding strategies for me, I felt like I had no control over the ball today. So there are two paths that I can take.

“Usually, one is to hit everything. And then another one is to run everything down. And usually I pick the hitting part first and then the running later, and I think I need to switch that around.”