An exciting day that included surprising victories by 18-year-olds Leylah Fernández and Carlos Alcaraz, then turned sad when a tearful Naomi Osaka said she will take a break from tennis to deal with the mental health issues that previously led her to retire. French Open and skipping Wimbledon.
Osaka, the No. 3 seed and reigning US Open champion, threw her racket and couldn’t hide her frustration when Fernandez rallied Friday night to win the third round 5-7, 7-6 (2) and 6-4. During a press conference, Osaka apologized for her childish behavior, but suggested that it reflected her current problems.
“Normally, I like challenges. But lately I feel really anxious when things don’t go my way, and I think it shows. I’m not really sure why it’s happening the way it’s happening now, ”said Osaka, who earlier this year acknowledged that she has battled depression since winning the US Open in 2018.
Responding in English to a question asked in Japanese, she added: “When I win I am not content and happy. I feel rather relieved. And then when I lose, I get really sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I really didn’t want to cry, but basically I feel like… ”Tears came to her, but she insisted on continuing.
“I basically feel like I’m at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” he commented, crying again. “Sorry. Yes. I think I’m going to take a break and won’t play for a while. “
Fernández was born in Montreal, but trains in Florida. She was not afraid of Osaka, who was rested but not ready for the match after advancing for a automatic pass in the second round. “From the beginning, just before the game, I knew I could win,” said Fernández, who is ranked 73rd in the world. “I wanted to give a show to everyone present.”
She and Alcaraz turned Friday into Teen Spirit Day at Arthur Ashe Stadium, disrespecting their elders with their precocious performances. If they are the future of tennis, as their skills and poise promise, it will be easier to bear the abandonments of the beloved but aging champions who have led the sport for so long and in a formidable way.
Alcaraz starred in the first surprise of the day by winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6 and 7-6 (5) over Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded number 3. In the end, Alcaraz he fell backwards on the blue court and was soaked in the applause of the fans, who were quickly infected by his aggressive play and his resilience.
“I have no words to explain what I feel right now,” he said. “I don’t know what happened on the court. I can’t believe he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match. For me it is a dream come true ”.
Ranked 55th in the world, Alcaraz gained attention earlier this year when he reached the third round of the French Open as a qualifier. He is the youngest player to reach the third round of a major tournament since Rafael Nadal did it at the 2004 Australian Open at age 17.
Although his reputation has grown, Alcaraz caught Tsitsipas off guard in the first set. “The speed of the ball was incredible. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball with such force, ”said Tsitsipas, who received a time violation warning and a coach warning, but did not take any of the long bathroom breaks that have angered some of his companions.
Alcaraz plays aggressively, but is able to control his emotions under pressure: he is 3-0 in playoffs here. “I’ve never seen someone play such a good fifth set, honestly,” concluded Tsitsipas. “It was supposed to be my match. It was a game he shouldn’t have lost. “
Alcaraz sought the attention of a coach after the fourth set and received a massage on his right thigh, although he said he had not been injured or had cramps. “I felt physically at my limit, I think, at the end of the third set,” Alcaraz said. However, she rallied to hold serve in the fifth set and won on her third match point.
Seldom has the third round of a Grand Slam tournament produced so much dazzling play. “Every game is a semi-final,” said 12th seed Simona Halep, after defeating 19th seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3.
The draw also brought together a pair of two Grand Slam singles winners who have been No. 1 in the world.
In that, the Spanish Garbine Muguruza beat the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 3-6 and 6-2. In another Grand Slam title holder duel, 2016 US Open champion Angelique Kerber defeated 2017 champion Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. Kerber, who has won 17 of his last 19 games, will meet Fernandez in the round of 16 on Sunday.
The Osaka US Open is over. Hopefully you will get the help you need to be happy and safe again, regardless of whether that includes your return to tennis.
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Naomi Osaka needs another break after losing at the US Open; Let’s hope it goes well