Naomi Osaka: "I finally started talking to a therapist:
After a high-profile exit at Indian Wells when affected and upset by a heckler in the crowd, Naomi Osaka was back to winning ways at the Miami Open.
Naomi Osaka looked relaxed and composed as she eased to a straight-sets win at the Miami Open, and offered a clue as to why when speaking to reporters afterwards. The 24-year-old revealed she has started seeing a therapist after her recent loss at Indian Wells, where she suggested a heckler had affected her performance.
Straight sets win
Osaka was left in tears as she struggled to deal with someone apparently shouting "Naomi, you suck!" during her second-round defeat to Veronika Kudermetova. She also withdrew from Roland Garros last year, citing mental health concerns. However, the three-time grand slam champion produced a strong display in her first round encounter in South Florida to beat Astra Sharma 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.
"I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I finally started talking to a therapist after Indian Wells. It only took like a year after French Open," she told reporters after her win. "She kind of told me strategies and stuff. I realise how helpful it is. I'm glad that I have people around me that told me to, like, go in that direction. But, yeah, I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to."
The world number 77 revealed it was partly her sister, former professional player Mari Osaka, showing concern that led her to seek out therapy. "I feel like I've been trying a lot of different things because I tend to internalize things, and I also want to do everything by myself," Osaka clarified, adding that her coach, Wim Fissette, had also encouraged her to do so.
Heckled for the first time
Osaka believes she is now better prepared to handle a similar situation to the one she suffered at Indian Wells should it arise, having realised it may have been the first time she has been heckled during a game.
"I think for me, the situation in Indian Wells, I've kind of thought back on it. I realise I've never been heckled. I've been booed, but not like a direct yell-out kind of thing. It kind of took me out of my element. I feel like I'm prepared for it now. I was kind of bracing myself before the match to just know that's a thing that could happen now. I think I just needed to change my mindset a little."