Naomi Osaka melts, leaves the US Open Courtroom in the midst of the sport and loses

NEW YORK – While Naomi Osaka has become a global advocate for athletic mental health, she is best known for her serenity and demeanor on the pitch. That wasn’t the case on Friday night when she lost to 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.

In the first set, Osaka looked balanced, confident, and aggressive. But towards the end of the second set, things quickly started to fall apart for her when # 73 Fernandez climbed back from 0-40 to 40-40 and hit a backhand winner to send him into a tiebreak. Osaka made a litany of casual mistakes in the tiebreaker and quickly dug into a major hole.

Passing a forehand to go down 0-3, she leaned over and let out an excruciating scream. After losing 0-4, she tossed her bat to the ground in frustration but received no warning or code violation. Down 0-5, after another unenforced mistake, she slammed her bat back to the ground and again received no warning or code violation.

She lost the tiebreaker 7-2 after making five casual mistakes and let out one final scream before leaving the pitch with a towel over her head. She stayed in a small bathroom off the courtyard for a few minutes before returning.

Osaka left the field immediately after the game.

In Flushing Meadows, she made her way on the national tennis scene when she defeated Serena Williams for the title in 2018. She added another Open crown in 2020 and also won the Australian Open in 2020 and 2021.

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She retired from the French Open after just one game that summer after receiving backlash for not attending post-game press conferences, a decision she announced before the Grand Slam began.

Osaka later announced that she had been battling depression since the 2018 US Open.

Follow Alex Coffey on Twitter @byalexcoffey

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