Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep offer words of encouragement to Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka’s fellow WTA Tour professionals Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova have offered her some encouragement after a difficult couple of weeks.
The 21-year-old is meant to be in her “honeymoon period” after becoming world No 1 on the back of winning the Australian Open, but things have not exactly gone according to plan.
Barely two weeks after her success Down Under, Osaka split with her coach Sascha Bajin and then lost her first match since the Melbourne final as she was stunned by Kristina Mladenovic in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
After the defeat she admitted that being in the spotlight has been tough.
Kvitova, who was beaten by Osaka in the Australian Open final, admitted it is difficult at the top when you make your breakthrough.
“She is kind of shy person, probably like me at the time,” the Czch is quoted as saying by WTATennis.com. “It was really difficult for me, that time, for sure. I totally understand Naomi.”
She added: “It took me while, for sure, then three years to win another Grand Slam. I was still in the top 10. I was still fighting, but in the big stages, I couldn’t just do it.
“On the other hand, it’s about experiences and coming to the court knowing that you are the favorite of every match. Every player on the other side wants to beat you. She’s No 1, Grand Slam winner, everyone just wants to beat her. That’s how the players are thinking. I do remember when I was young, I totally had same mindset. That’s how it is.”
Kvitova also urged the Japanese star to give herself some time.
“She just needs time. I don’t think there’s any advice. I think that she just need to live it and find experiences from it. She will be fine.”
Halep, who was replaced at the top of the world rankings by Osaka, is another player who had a difficult time when she reached the top.
“Nobody has or had what I had in Romania,” she said. “Trust me that I am strong, that I could resist these things.
“2014 was the worst, then one more year, then that was it. Now I’m feeling good.”
She added: “It’s normal. She didn’t play since Melbourne. She won that title, very big title. It’s normal to have a little bit of letdown maybe.
“But she will come back stronger. If she lost one match, doesn’t mean that she lost everything. She has to relax.”
Former world No 1 Pliskova also pleaded for patience.
“I think winning a Grand Slam for the first time and being No 1, I don’t know if I would really feel pressure,” she said.
“From my opinion, the pressure had to be bigger for her after the US Open because that was the bigger surprise than now. Now, she’s played so well to win two Grand Slams and be World No.1. Everybody expects her to win all of her matches right now, because she’s the best.
“I thought she was handling the pressure well, but maybe being here in Asia, plus it’s her first tournament she’s played, she might need a couple of matches.”
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