Australian Open no show fuels fears for Osaka’s tennis future

Australian Open no show fuels fears for Osaka's tennis future

Naomi Osaka has not performed a tennis match since September and her withdraw from next week’s Australian Open expressed concern that the outdated world primary won’t play once more.

Osaka’s social media accounts have been quiet since Tennis Australia tweeted on Sunday that the two-time Melbourne champion would miss the primary Grand Slam of the yr with out giving any purpose for his absence.

Osaka’s posts over the previous few months present she’s touring in Europe together with her boyfriend, rapper Cordae, and the sports activities administration company has introduced the signing of world quantity two Ounce Jabeur.

However there may be little proof that the Japanese participant spends time on the court docket training, fueling hypothesis that his four-time Grand Slam champion tennis profession might finish at age 25.

Tennis author Ben Rothenberg, who wrote a biography of Osaka popping out later this yr, believes he is already taken a “significant step” from the game and has been intentionally conserving quiet.

“I believe he would possibly wish to be opaque about it as a result of he would not wish to put a label on it,” he informed AFP.

“I do not suppose he’d use the phrase ‘retire,’ but when he took a break from the game for some time — and that may very well be for any size of time — I do not know for those who’d need that. Say that out loud.

“I believe you are going to really feel like this can ring plenty of bells and whistles.”

‘Removed from above’

Osaka has beforehand talked about fighting psychological well being and declared that she is depressed.

He spent all of 2022 outdoors of the highest 10, endured first-round defeats at each the French and US Opens, and withdrew from Wimbledon with an Achilles damage.

He additionally left longtime coach Wim Fissette final summer time and was changed by his father, Leonard Francois.

His final look was on the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, the place he was filmed earlier than the home-favourite second-round match. complaint of abdominal pain.

He informed reporters at that match that in 2022 he lived “removed from the highest” and “discovered lots” about himself.

It peaked for the primary time in 2019, at the moment rating forty seventh on the planet.

Rothenberg believes Osaka is “recalculating issues” and will determine that he’s not able to make the sacrifices essential to proceed as knowledgeable tennis participant.

“For him, the mathematics is just not at the moment being collected for him to wish to make the dedication,” he mentioned.

“He is aware of how a lot work and the way immersive and fascinating it’s to be a full-time lively participant by his requirements.

“He is gained a lot already that he will not be content material with being within the prime 20 once more.”

Australian Ashleigh Barty, then the world’s undisputed primary, shocked the tennis world in March final yr. He announced his retirement at the age of 25.

He defined that he was “bodily exhausted” and now not had the energy to maintain going.

enterprise pursuits

Osaka has many pursuits outdoors of tennis, together with Jabeur and sports activities administration company Evolve, which additionally contains the Australian tennis star. Among his clients is Nick Kyrgios.

He additionally invested in Pickleball, a fast-growing tennis-like sport in the USA with a big turnover.

The web site describes himself not solely as a tennis participant, but in addition as a “style fanatic”, “entrepreneur” and “social change advocate”.

Osaka was named the world’s highest-paid feminine athlete in 2022 by Forbes, with reported earnings of $51.1 million at the same time as her tennis profession continues to take a plunge.

Rothenberg says there shall be vital strain from sponsors who encourage Osaka to “keep on the hamster wheel” {of professional} tennis.

However he says his selection not to decide on proves that he “made that call for himself.”

“For no matter purpose, gamers are nearly all the time improper in selecting to play,” he mentioned.

“So I believe urgent pause exhibits that he has quite a lot of management over the state of affairs.”

And Rothenberg believes there’s nonetheless loads of time for Osaka to return if he desires to.

“There’s extra runways forward of him if he desires to take off and tour once more,” he mentioned.

“But it surely will not be simpler with extra permissions. The extra time he spends outdoors, the better it is not going to be.

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