Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka experienced her first loss more than a week after announcing her surprising split from coach Sascha Bajin.
The 21-year-old Japanese-Haitian tennis player lost to Kristina Mladenovic by 6-3, 6-3 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, according to AsAm News. This was her first game since winning the Australian Open last month.
While speaking to reporters, Osaka implied negative pressure contributed to her losing the match.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m pretty sure, like, you guys — no offense to you guys — but I’m pretty sure as time goes on, you guys will stop talking about it. For now, it’s like the biggest tennis news, I guess. It’s a little bit hard because I feel like people are staring at me, and not like in a good way,” she said. “My reason is I wouldn’t put success over my happiness — that’s my main thing. I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.”
Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha. I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) February 11, 2019
Bajin, a former hitting partner of many renowned tennis players including Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams, was named the Women’s Tennis Associate (WTA) Coach of the Year for his success with Osaka in 2018.
“The biggest thing is I don’t want myself to think to be successful, I have to put success over happiness. Because if I’m not happy being around certain people, I’m not going to torture myself. … So I’d rather just surround myself with people that I really like and that truly care about me and are just really positive. I think I’ve been able to do that,” Osaka continued.
“If I’m not waking up every day happy to practice and happy to be around the people I’m around, this is my life. I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.”
Endorsement offers reportedly flooded in, but Osaka hopes to name her next coach before she competes at Indian Wells, which starts on March 4.
Featured Images via Instagram / naomiosakatennis