Naomi Osaka has ‘that itch again’ as she hints at return and explains why she needed a break

Naomi Osaka arrives on the court

Naomi Osaka hopes to play again “soon” following her hiatus with the four-time Grand Slam winner admitting that she needed to step away from the sport as she “wasn’t playing to make myself happy”.

The 23-year-old first took a break from tennis after withdrawing from the French Open following the furore over her decision not to do media duties at Roland Garros. After missing Wimbledon, she made her return at the Tokyo Olympics before competing at the Cincinnati Masters and US Open.

However, after losing in the third round at Flushing Meadows against eventual runner-up Leylah Fernandez, she announced that she would take a break saying “I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match”.

‘I don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,’ says Naomi Osaka as she confirms she will take a break

The former world No 1, though, has indicated that she is ready to return.

“For sure I love the sport,” she told the HBO show The Shop: Uninterrupted. “I know I’m gonna play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again. But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I’d just have the joy of being back on the court. Just to, like, you know, that I’m doing it for myself.”

Osaka also divulged more details about how she wasn’t happy when she was playing tennis.

“I started to feel like that power was being taken away from me,” the Japanese star said. “And the way that I felt, like, I wasn’t playing to make myself happy and I was more concerned about … what would people say about me.”

She added: “I used to love the competition and just being competitive,” Osaka said. “Like if I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me. And then I just started to feel – recently – the longer it was the more stressed out I became. But I just needed a break to go within myself.”