Osaka feels ‘itch’ to make tennis return ‘soon’

PARIS (AFP) – Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she will return to tennis soon after feeling the “itch” to play again.

Osaka said earlier this month she planned to take an indefinite break from the sport after an early exit from the US Open.

The 23-year-old had previously pulled out of the French Open and skipped Wimbledon to protect her mental health.

“I know I’m going to play again,” Osaka told HBO show The Shop.

Adding that her return would be “probably soon”, Osaka said: “I kind of have that itch again.

“It wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost, I’d just have the joy of being back on the court.”

Osaka, who recently dropped out of the top five in the world rankings, said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

She had also made an early exit from Cincinnati last month, and had bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the early rounds in July.

“I used to love the competition and just being competitive,” she said.

“If I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me. 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.”

Osaka was fined for failing to meet mandatory media requirements after her opening round win at Roland Garros. She withdrew from the tournament a day later.