Naomi Osaka was dethroned as champion and toppled from the world number one ranking with a US Open loss Monday, but she’s calm about the setback after learning some valuable lessons.
Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic beat Osaka 7-5, 6-4 in a fourth-round match at Flushing Meadows, sending the 21-year-old Japanese star away unhappy but wiser.
“For me, right now I have this feeling of sadness, but I also feel like I have learned so much during this tournament,” Osaka said. “I feel like the steps I’ve taken as a person have been much greater than I would imagine at this point, so I hope I can keep growing. I know if I keep working hard, then I’ll have better results.”
Osaka admitted to a sore knee that bothered her for the past two weeks and that she is coming to realize how well she must play when she is less than at her best.
“Something I have learned over the summer is that even if you aren’t playing your best, you’re going to play people who are going to play their best,” Osaka said. “You have to figure out how to win those matches. And it’s matches like that that are the most important, because it really tests your character. So I think on that side I have a lot of growing up to do.”
Osaka, however, showed impressive maturity after her third-round match by allowing tearful teen Coco Gauff, humbled in defeat, to join her for post-match interviews that left them both in tears.
“Definitely didn’t expect it to blow up like that,” she said. “I was surprised because I just thought it was for the people in there, the stands.”
She received incredible support on social media, helping her produce some personal growth even if she won’t add to her Grand Slam trophy case.
“Lessons that I’ve learned? I guess not to take myself so seriously. That would be the biggest one, just to know there’s always another tournament,” Osaka said. “I’m kind of still figuring it out as I go along.”
After walking out on reporters after a third-round French Open loss and rushing out quickly following a first-round crash out at Wimbledon, Osaka found herself less angry and more disappointed in defeat.
“I’m not that mad at this,” Osaka said. “Of course I can look at this and be very disappointed and mad, but I’m not mad at it. I feel like I’m more chill now. I feel like I grew. I don’t feel like I put so much weight on one single match. Of course to a certain extent I do, but as a whole I want to see that I played better matches through the summer. I feel like definitely the tournament I played here has been the best one so far.”