'Have that itch': Naomi Osaka's shock hint after tennis layoff

Naomi Osaka (pictured) celebrating after a win at the Australian Open.
Naomi Osaka (pictured) has hinted at a retur to tennis soon. (Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka has hinted she could be returning to tennis sooner than expected after an interview on The Uninterrupted program.

Osaka left the US Open last month in tears, telling her media agent not to intervene as she told a packed press conference she would be taking her second stint away from tennis in 2021.

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Since the US Open, she has already withdrawn from Indian Wells and left fans wondering when she would play her next match.

However, in a huge hint that her return isn't as far off as some might expected, Osaka told 'The Uninterrupted' HBO show she is already getting that urge for a return to competitive tennis.

"For sure I love the sport," Osaka said.

"I know I'm gonna play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again. But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost.

"I'd just have the joy of being back on the court. Just to, like, you know, that I’m doing it for myself."

Osaka added, in recent times, she didn't feel much enjoyment when entering court because she was playing for other people, rather than herself.

The four-time grand slam champion added her love for the competitive aspect of the game had waned over time.

But, she admitted a break was what she needed.

"I used to love the competition and just being competitive," Osaka added.

"Like if I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me. And then 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."

Naomi Osaka withdraws from Indian Wells

Osaka's comments are encouraging for her fans that want to see her back on the court and enjoying herself.

The 23-year-old recently pulled out of the Indian Wells tournament, much to the dismay of many fans.

The Japanese star is a former champion at Indian Wells, winning the title in 2018 with victory over Daria Kasatkina.

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," Osaka said following her defeat to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who went on to make the final.

"I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while."

Osaka, who has dropped out of the top five in the latest world rankings, has been in the spotlight this year after withdrawing from the French Open and skipping Wimbledon over mental health issues.

She said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

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