Naomi Osaka wants to have fun upon return to tennis in San Jose
- The tennis star moved to clarify there was nothing sinister behind her split with coach Wim Fissette saying ‘I just felt I needed different energy’
- Osaka is due to face China’s Zheng Qinwen in the first round at the Silicon Valley Classic on Wednesday
Four-time major winner Naomi Osaka wants to simply get back to having fun upon her return to tennis at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose this week.
The Japanese 24-year-old has not played since her first-round loss to Amanda Anisimova at the French Open in May and sits 41st in the world rankings.
Osaka, who missed Wimbledon due to a left Achilles issue, parted ways with coach Wim Fissette last month after two and a half years.
The injury is one of many that have plagued Osaka over the past difficult 15 months, during which she withdrew from last year’s French Open citing “mental health reasons” after boycotting her mandatory post-match media conferences.
She also announced a hiatus following her third-round US Open exit last year but appears in a better place now, with her father, Leonard Francois, stepping in as her coach.
“I just would like to have fun and I know I say that very often, basically every tournament for the last year now, but to genuinely have fun,” Osaka told reporters.
“I was telling my dad literally this morning when we were practising in the rain, years ago we would have to fight to practice on public courts. It was just me and my sister and my dad alone.
“Now I’ve gotten to the point where people pay to watch me play, and for that I am very grateful. I would have never imagined that as a child.
“Just having fun and being grateful in the moment and trying to engage with everyone to the best of my abilities.”
Osaka moved to clarify there was nothing sinister behind her split with Fissette, having won the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open titles alongside him.
“It was really good times with Wim and he’s a really amazing coach,” Osaka said.
“We didn’t part on bad terms. I just felt I needed different energy, and at the same time, he’s a very ambitious guy. I was getting injured and I’m sure he would have wanted to go to Wimbledon.
“It was two different mindsets, I would say. But he’s a really cool guy still. So confirming that there were no bad things happening.”
Osaka is due to face China’s Zheng Qinwen in the first round at the Silicon Valley Classic on Wednesday.
Meanwhile reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan lost to seventh seed Daria Kasatkina on in a first-round match of th ehardcourt tournament.
World number 12 Kasatkina won 11 of the last 12 games to win 1-6, 6-2, 6-0 in Rybakina’s debut match since winning her first major title.
Kasatkina will next play American Taylor Townsend, who eliminated Australian Storm Sanders 6-1, 6-4 at the US Open hard court tune-up event.
After 23rd-ranked Rybakina rolled through the opening set in 35 minutes, Kasatkina dominated the final two.
American Madison Keys, the 2017 US Open runner-up, defeated China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-2 to book a second-round date against Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who lost to Rybakina in last month’s Wimbledon final.