Seen objectively, Osaka’s loss to Anisimova was no upset. Osaka, a former No. 1 from Japan, is likely one of the greatest stars in sports activities and the very best paid feminine athlete on the earth by a big margin. However she has not been a dominant drive on tour for properly over a yr now and has by no means been a dominant drive on the French Open’s clay-court floor.
For now, she stays a one-surface surprise. All 4 of Osaka’s Grand Slam singles titles had been received on hardcourts: two on the Australian Open and two at america Open. She has by no means reached even the ultimate of a clay-court occasion on tour and has by no means been previous the third spherical of the French Open. Her profession report in singles on hardcourts is 133-56 however on clay it’s 21-17 and on grass simply 11-9. She mentioned afterward that she was leaning towards not enjoying subsequent month at Wimbledon, which is performed on grass courts, now that the WTA Tour had stripped the occasion of rating factors in response to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian gamers.
“I really feel like if I play Wimbledon with out factors, it’s extra like an exhibition,” Osaka mentioned. “I do know this isn’t true, proper? However my mind similar to feels that means. Each time I feel like one thing is like an exhibition, I simply can’t go at it one hundred pc.”
Final yr, struggling on and off court docket, she withdrew earlier than the second spherical of the French Open due to a standoff with event officers over her refusal to seem at obligatory post-match information conferences. She cited her psychological well being as the explanation for skipping them for so long as she was within the event however didn’t interact with event officers instantly earlier than saying her choice or within the aftermath once they sought additional rationalization. Confronted with a scarcity of background, they fined her $15,000 for lacking her first-round information convention and made it clear that she risked being defaulted from the event and future Grand Slam tournaments if she continued to refuse to adjust to the media necessities.
It was a surprisingly laborious line, and Osaka selected to withdraw reasonably than escalate the scenario, revealing as she introduced her withdrawal by way of social media that she had skilled lengthy bouts of melancholy since profitable her first main title on the 2018 US Open.
L’Affaire Osaka at Roland Garros sparked a large debate on psychological well being points in sports activities and has led to the ladies’s tour offering much more psychological well being sources for its gamers on and off website. Osaka has mentioned that she wish to have dealt with the scenario in another way. The French Open has modified a few of its management, with longtime event director Man Neglect being changed this yr by Amélie Mauresmo, a former No. 1 participant on the ladies’s tour who has made gamers’ psychological well being a precedence. Underneath her management, the French Open has diminished entry to participant areas for reporters this yr. The event is also offering psychological well being specialists on website to help gamers.
Mauresmo made an effort to greet Osaka on and off court docket when she returned to Roland Garros this yr. Osaka arrived unseeded and having performed simply two singles matches on clay all yr after withdrawing from the Italian Open earlier this month due to her left Achilles’ tendon harm.