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Osaka says therapy helping after Miami win

MIAMI (AFP) – Naomi Osaka regained her composure to breeze into the second round of the Miami Open on Wednesday before revealing she has begun working with a therapist to deal with the issues which saw her make a tearful exit at Indian Wells earlier this month.

The Japanese star, who had time away from the sport in 2021 because of mental health problems, has sought help after struggling to deal with being heckled in California during her loss to Veronika Kudermetova.

With world number one Ashleigh Barty stunning the sporting world by announcing her retirement at the age of just 25, the gruelling effect the professional tennis tour has on body and mind has been brought into sharp focus.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I finally started talking to a therapist after Indian Wells,” Osaka said.

“It only took like a year after the French Open (in 2021 when she announced she was taking a break).

“She kind of told me strategies and stuff. I realise how helpful it is. I’m glad that I have people around me that told me to, like, go in that direction.

“But, yeah, I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to.”

Osaka’s decision to step away from tennis last year was seen by many as a watershed moment for high profile sports stars who opt to prioritise mental well-being.

Naomi Osaka reacts after losing a point in her match against Astra Sharma at the Miami Open. PHOTO: AP