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Naomi Osaka's turbulent 2021 has hit a new low, with the Japanese superstar dropping out of the top 10 in women's tennis for the first time in three years.
The 23-year-old has been embedded in the top 10 ever since winning the 2018 US Open title in an infamous decider against Serena Williams.
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The Japanese star, a former World No.1, has not played since exiting the US Open in the third round last month.
Osaka has been dealing with a well publicised mental health battle in 2021 and has been brought to tears during several press conferences in 2021.
The four-time major winner previously pulled out of the French Open and skipped Wimbledon this year to protect her mental health.
The sad reality of her continued break from the sport is that Osaka has now fallen to 12th in the WTA rankings.
It marks the Japanese star's lowest ranking since before she claimed the first of four grand slam titles in the Flushing Meadows final against Williams.
Last week, the 23-year-old said that her return would be "probably soon" and that she "kind of" has "that itch again" to play competitive tennis.
Nevertheless, tennis fans have been left saddened to see Osaka hit a three-year low in the rankings.
Tennis 🎾 @naomiosaka dropped to 12th position in the latest #WTA Rankings, falling out of the top 10 for the first time since winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2018. pic.twitter.com/RW66jyRLtG
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) October 4, 2021
— Sean Cardovillis (@sean_cardo) October 4, 2021
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 4, 2021
Bianca down to #38 in the live ranking. That's sadly about right for her and how she's been playing. Osaka out of the top 10 and defends a huge % of her points in Australia. Things are not going to come easily for her anymore.
— FKAnthony2 (@anthony2_fk) October 4, 2021
— Pooja Midge's Fan (@Alyssa_Healy77) October 4, 2021
Naomi Osaka has slipped out the top 10 in the rankings for the first time since 2018 🔽
Osaka won her fourth major at the Australian Open earlier this year but withdrew from the next two Grand Slams 🏆
The 23-year-old revealed last month she was taking a break from tennis 🎾
— GiveMeSportW (@GiveMeSportW) October 4, 2021
Australia's Ash Barty is well out in front of second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka as the number one player in women's tennis.
Two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza jumped to sixth in the rankings after winning the title in Chicago last week.
Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who lost to Muguruza in the final, climbed to a career-high ranking of 14th.
US Open champion Emma Raducanu is also up to World No.22, following her whirlwind second half of the year.
Having taken three weeks off to digest her maiden grand slam triumph, Raducanu is poised for a busy month.
The US Open champion, who will play her first tournament since her stunning New York triumph at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week, has entered the Upper Austria Ladies Linz next month.
After Indian Wells, the 18-year-old has also entered the Kremlin Cup in Moscow beginning on October 18 and the Transylvania Open in her father’s home country of Romania the following week.
The Linz tournament begins on November 6, but Raducanu would be forced into a rethink should she qualify for the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, with the two events overlapping.
The top eight players of the season qualify for the season-ending showpiece but with doubts over whether Osaka and Ash Barty will participate, there could be spots up for grabs for the likes of Raducanu.
WTA top 20 on October 4:
1. Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 9,077 pts
2. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 7,115
3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 5,285
4. Iga Swiatek (POL) 4,756
5. Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 4,668
6. Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 4,595 (+3)
7. Elina Svitolina (UKR) 4,376 (-1)
8. Sofia Kenin (USA) 4,190
9. Maria Sakkari (GRE) 4,055 (+1)
10. Belinda Bencic (SUI) 3,835 (+2)
11. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 3,735
12. Naomi Osaka (JPN) 3,326 (-5)
13. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 3,255
14. Ons Jabeur (TUN) 3,220 (+2)
15. Angelique Kerber (GER) 3,105 (-1)
16. Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 2,983 (+1)
17. Simona Halep (ROM) 2,982 (-2)
18. Elise Mertens (BEL) 2,885
19. Cori Gauff (USA) 2,815
20. Anett Kontaveit (EST) 2,616 (+3)
22. Emma Raducanu (GBR) 2,558
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