Japan’s world No 32 Naomi Osaka broke down in tears during an awkward press conference after her defeat to Belinda Bencic in Paris. The 20-year-old beat the eventual champion, Angelique Kerber, in her first match at the French Open to earn a first WTA title, but went out in the third round at Roland Garros on Saturday to the world No 8 Bencic, an outsider at the tournament.
Tennis: Naomi Osaka sobs after claiming maiden WTA title in Paris Read more
Ahead of the match, Osaka – coached by her boyfriend, the 2013 Wimbledon champion Daniel Nestor – was quick to credit her boyfriend and the tournament as having played a part in her unexpected run to the final in Paris. But after the match, Osaka reportedly asked reporters to leave the room and broke down in tears.
In a video posted on Reddit, the Japanese player addressed the media via an interpreter following her straight-sets defeat. After thanking the Williams sisters, the president of the French Tennis Federation and the tournament organisers, she began to list the crowd reaction to her win in the final.
“And then when she won the second set, it was like, you know, every fan there was cheering and jumping up and down, and, um, something inside me wasn’t feeling well,” she said. “So I knew it was time to shut down the press conference.”
She then covered her face in her hands before being comforted by her trainer. Bencic, who won 6-4 6-3, is ranked 70 places higher than Osaka at 44th. The four-set match was interrupted twice for rain and saw Osaka elected to play one set before the break and the other after it.
The Japanese tennis player has previously spoken about how the heartbreak of losing the Australian Open final last year, when losing to Serena Williams in a gruelling five-set epic, played a part in her decision to target the French Open.
“I’ve lost a lot of matches, I think in tournaments … I have to really … this year, my target was to win the tournament,” she said ahead of her match with the Belgian Elise Mertens in the second round. “I think I had been preparing myself physically and mentally better.”
On Saturday, Osaka took to Instagram to admit she’d struggled with the attention and was grateful to have made it that far.
“It’s really, really exhausting and I was so tired,” she wrote. “I’m happy I was able to do all of it. It’s been really good though, so I’m happy I can say that.
“It’s just that it’s, it’s been so much attention. I’m just so appreciative of everything for all of it. Thank you all so much.”