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Naomi Osaka Using Tour Shutdown To Overcome Mental Demons

How a run-in with musical royalty spurred the former world No.1 to change her ways.

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is renowned for her introverted personality and shyness when it comes to being in the limelight. Although now she wants to bury that perception of her for good.

 

The two-time grand slam champion has proclaimed that she ‘is done’ with being shy after missing out on a series of opportunities due to being too quiet. She came to the realisation during her time in lockdown in Los Angeles. The WTA Tour has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is unclear as to when the sport will start going again. Early this month the 22-year-old publicly expressed her desire to be more outgoing in a Twitter post.

“I’m done being shy. It’s really a waste of my time. I could’ve shared so many ideas by now, I could’ve had conversations with so many different people. All the things I could’ve learned but no I’m over here actually putting my own limiter on myself,” she wrote.

The post wasn’t a one-off or a random comment – she means business. Following her tweet, she then reiterated her determination during an interview with CNN Sport. Saying that she would like to overcome her crippling shyness in the near future.

“For me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep, and most of the regret is that I don’t speak out about what I’m thinking,” Osaka explained.

One of her biggest regrets never took place on the court or was even tennis related. It involved an encounter she had with music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce. Two of Osaka’s idols. During an interview with wtatennis.com back in 2018, she described Beyonce as one of the people who inspire her along with her mum, sister and fellow player Serena Williams.

“He started talking to me, but I got really nervous and started giving one word replies so he suddenly said, ‘Are you shy?’ and I said, ‘yeah,’ and the convo came to a screeching halt.” She remembers of her meeting with Jay-Z.

So what would Osaka have said to the musical couple if she had the chance again? For her, she wanted to pay tribute to the influence both of them has had on her.

“I want to take the chance to tell people I appreciate them while I can,” she said.
“I would like to thank Jay-Z and Beyoncé for making music that motivates me, because there was a period in my life where I just watched Beyoncé performances to get motivated.
“Even right now I’m listening to older Jay-Z songs because I feel like they’re really chill.”

Osaka is currently ranked 10th in the world. She started 2020 by winning five out of eight matches played on the Tour with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.

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Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo

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World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. 

Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown. 

Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.

“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit. 

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Anett Kontaveit beats Elisabetta Cocciaretto to reach the semifinal at the Palermo Ladies Open

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Number 4 seed and world number 22 Anett Kontaveit ended Italian teenager Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 4-6 6-1 to reach the semifinals at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo. Kontaveit broke serve seven times and hit five aces. 

 

Kontaveit, who reached the Australian Open quarter final, broke twice and saved two break points in the second game to race out to a 4-0 lead. Cocciaretto got her first game on the scoreboard in the sixth game to avoid the bagel before Kontaveit served out the first set in the next game. 

Cocciaretto earned an early break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. Cocciaretto earned three game points for 5-2 in the seventh game, but Kontaveit broke back in a marathon seventh game. The second set ended with four consecutive breaks, as Cocciaretto claimed the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit broke three times to cruise through to a 6-1 win in the third set after 1 hour and 54 minutes. The Estonian player set up a semifinal clash against Martic in a re-match of last February’s quarter final in Dubai. 

“It was really tough tonight. She played great and she had the home crowd definitely behind her. I am really happy with how I fought in the third set and that I managed to turn it around in the end”, said Kontaveit. 

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Petra Martic secures her spot in the semifinal in Palermo after hard-fought win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich

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Top seed and world number 15 Petra Martic from Croatia secured her spot in the semifinal at the 31st edition of the Ladies Open in Palermo after a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3) win over former world number 30 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus. Martic produced 54 winners to 23 unforced errors. 

 

Martic fought back from a break down in the opening set and secured a hard-fought win on her fourth match points, as she served for the match twice in the second tie-break. 

The first set went on serve in the first eight games before Sasnovich broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Martic broke straight back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. The Croatian player fended off three break points at 5-5 and did not convert her first set point in Sasnovich’s service game. 

Martic led 5-3 in the tie-break, but Sasnovich won the next two points to draw level to 5-5. Martic hit a forehand that forced a Sasnovich error and an unreturned serve to close out the tie-break after 75 minutes. 

Martic broke twice in the first and fifth games to build up a 4-1 lead in the second set. Sasnovich pulled one of the two breaks back in the sixth game. Sasnovich trailed 40-15 at 5-4 on Martic’s serve, but she saved both match points. The Belarusian player later fended off another match point after deuce to draw level to 5-5. Martic broke again in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead, but Sasnovich broke straight back at 15 to force the second set to the second tie-break. Martic won five of the final six points to win the tie-break 7-3 reaching her second semifinal of the season after Dubai. 

“Overall, it was a great fight. I knew she was not going to give up until the match was over, and that’s what she proved once again. I think today was better than yesterday. There was some things that I was happy with, some things that I am not really happy with, but I am really just happy that I managed to win this match in two sets. I had two tough matches and my body’s holding up well. I have no major issues, just maybe soreness that I am sure we all have in the first tournament back. It feels nice to be reminded of how it feels to be that kind of tired, but all in all, I am happy. I had some good weeks of practice and it’s paying off”, said Martic. 

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