Naomi Osaka apologizes to racket sponsor Photograph:( Reuters )
Naomi Osaka kicked her racket in a match against Zheng Saisai at the Australian Open; offered a light-hearted apology to her racket-sponsor.
Tennis champion Naomi Osaka threw a tantrum against Zheng Saisai at the Australian Open but offered a light-hearted apology to her racket sponsor after overcoming her frustrations to set up a third-round clash with Coco Gauff.
Third-seed Osaka threw her racket after dropping serve early in the second set, slammed a ball into the court and gave her racket a kick for good measure before regaining her composure and earning a 6-2 6-4 win on a gusty day at Margaret Court Arena.
“I mean, my racket just magically flew out of my hand,” Osaka told reporters with a smile. “I couldn’t control it. Sorry, Yonex. I think that’s how I dealt with my frustration. It was a bit childish. I just want to play one match without throwing my racket or kicking it. That’s all I want.”
[ Naomi Osaka offered a light-hearted apology to her racket sponsor for throwing a tantrum (Courtesy: AFP) ]
The match echoed of her tumultuous third-round win over Hsieh Su-wei at the same venue last year, when Osaka was distracted by her opponent's unorthodox technique of slices and drop-shots.
Hsieh was ultimately overhauled by Osaka and she claimed her second Grand Slam Title with another thunderous victory over Petra Kvitova.
“Yeah, it’s really tough, because you start thinking she’s not hitting winners,” said Osaka who was determined to avoid a third set against Zheng.
“You’re the one making all the errors. And you try to tell yourself not to make that many errors, but you have to go for those balls. “So it’s like you’re walking a very fine line between being very aggressive or attempting to push but that’s her game. So it’s very hard.”
Osaka was broken again after her tantrum and fell 4-2 behind, but fought off her rainclouds and shot Zheng down in a firestorm of winners.
Gauff set up a blockbuster rematch with her US Open conqueror Osaka by beating Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-3 7-5 at the Melbourne Arena. “I played her at the US Open so I know what to expect,” Gauff said of Osaka in her on-court interview. “I think she’s a great competitor on and off the court.”