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Naomi Osaka Crashes Out of the 2021 U.S. Open Tennis

Naomi Osaka gives the peace sign to the crowd as she walks off the court after losing to Leylah Fernandez of Canada at the conclusion of their match on the fifth day of the US Open. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES

“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad,” Osaka said at her news conference following a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 loss at Flushing Meadows to Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old from Canada who is ranked 73rd and never had been this far in Grand Slam competition. “I don’t think that’s normal.”

Naomi Osaka also said Friday night she is thinking about taking another break from tennis “for a while.”

Naomi Osaka covers her head and face with a towel during a break in her match against Leylah Fernandez of Canada on the fifth day of the US Open. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY

“This is very hard to articulate,” she said, resting her left cheek in her hand. “Basically, I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match.”

Crying, she lowered her black visor over her eyes and offered an apology, then patted her palms on both cheeks.

“Yeah,” Osaka added as she rose to leave, “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

This was the first Slam tournament for Osaka since she pulled out of the French Open before the second round to take a mental health break after having announced she would not participate in news conferences in Paris.

She also sat out Wimbledon, before participating in the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the Olympic torch as one of Japan’s most famous athletes.

Osaka came in with a 16-match winning streak at majors. Still, Fernandez declared: “Right before the match, I knew I was able to win.”

Leylah Fernandez of Canada reacts after defeating Naomi Osaka of Japan at the conclusion of their match on the fifth day of the US Open Tennis. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY

“Finally, I found a pattern to her serve,” Fernandez said. “I just trusted my gut and hit the ball.”

“I wasn’t really focused on Naomi,” Fernandez said. “I was only focused on myself, my game, what I needed to do.”

Fernandez, smiling and holding her right fist overhead after the biggest of points, certainly had something to do with the outcome.

“I’m going to put on a show like I did tonight,” Fernandez said, “and we’re going to see how it goes.”