Defending champion Naomi Osaka sent a ripple around the tennis world as she said she wasn’t sure when she would return to the sport after going down in the third round of US Open on Friday.
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The world number three lost 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez.
"I guess I wanted to stay on court a little bit longer and I wanted to put on a show for everybody here." 😁@leylahfernandez stuns the No.3 seed Osaka and cements her spot in the second week of the #USOpen 👇
— wta (@WTA) September 4, 2021
“I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do,” Osaka said in a post-match news conference, in which she became increasingly tearful.
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“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.
“I feel like for me recently, when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”
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The four-time major champion has been struggling emotionally since the French Open, which she quit after being fined for boycotting mandatory press conferences.
Osaka has played a big part in bringing the issues of athletes’ mental health to the forefront this summer. But the 23-year-old has found the going tough.
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She had pulled out of Wimbledon and lost early at her home Olympics in Tokyo, where she was a hot favourite.
Stefanos Tsitsipas ousted
Stefanos Tsitsipas’ controversial New York sojourn came to an end as he went down to Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round.
A night that will go down in tennis history as simply unforgettable. @alcarazcarlos03 #USOpen pic.twitter.com/rnBCDkqzYs
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 3, 2021
The Greek star had been charged of gamesmanship as he took timely, long bathroom breaks during his first two matches at US Open.
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One of the most promising young talents on the tennis circuit, Alcaraz won in just over four hours to become the youngest man in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows since a couple of guys named Pete Sampras and Michael Chang in 1989.
In a late-night thriller, Frances Tiafoe sent fifth seed Andrey Rublev packing.
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Tiafoe played an incredible fifth set to beat Rublev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-1 and reach the fourth round of the US Open for the second consecutive year.
The three-hour, 46-minute thriller finished at 2:14 a.m., making it tied for the fifth-latest finish in US Open history.
6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3. 😅
FAA gets a big win over RBA at the #USOpen pic.twitter.com/sMR8GGFzrh
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 4, 2021
Meanwhile, three women with multiple major titles each- Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber- pulled out three-set victories to advance to Week 2.
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Muguruza got past Victoria Azarenka, a three-time U.S. Open runner-up including a year ago, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 and next faces French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
Kerber, who won the title in New York in 2016, defeated 2017 champ Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. And Halep was a 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3 winner over Elena Rybakina.