Ash Barty move that could help save Naomi Osaka's tennis career

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Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty, pictured here in action at the US Open.
Naomi Osaka could take a leaf out of Ash Barty's book and take a break from tennis. image: Getty

If Naomi Osaka needs an example of why taking a break from tennis might be the best thing for her career, she need look no further than Ash Barty.

Osaka made the bombshell admission that she's considering stepping away from tennis "for a while" after her shock loss in the third round of the US Open on Friday.

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At her post-match press conference after being knocked out by Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, Osaka looked over to her agent and said she wanted to tell the world what the two of them had discussed privately in the hallways of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Osaka, pausing every so often as her voice got caught on her words and her eyes filled with tears, said she is thinking of taking another break from tennis "for a while."

"How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don't feel happy," she admitted.

"I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad," said Osaka after the 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 loss. 

"I don't think that's normal."

The moderator in charge of the interview with reporters attempted to cut things off, but Osaka said she wanted to continue.

"This is very hard to articulate," she said.

"Basically, I feel like I'm kind of at this point where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match.

"I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while," she finished, breaking down in tears.

Ash Barty, pictured here in action for the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League in 2015.
Ash Barty in action for the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League in 2015. (Photo by Michael Dodge - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

How Ash Barty came back better after cricket sabbatical

While the tennis world was initially stunned by Osaka's admission, many have since pointed out that a break from tennis did wonders for Barty's career.

The Aussie star shocked fans in 2015 when she announced her plans to step away from tennis to play cricket for a year.

A junior Wimbledon champion, Barty was struggling to live up to her immense potential and expectations and wasn't enjoying her tennis.

She joined the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League in a move that eventually worked wonders for her tennis career.

"It truly was an amazing period of my life," Barty said in 2019 after winning her first grand slam title at the French Open.

"I met an amazing group of people who couldn't care less whether I could hit a tennis ball or not.

"They accepted me, and they got to know Ash Barty. They got to know me. I still have those relationships to this very day."

Barty said she needed to live a "normal life" for a while in order to recharge.

"For me, I needed time to step away, to live a normal life, because this tennis life certainly isn't normal," she conceded.

"I think I needed time to grow as a person, to mature and I left all of my options open.

"I think it was just a natural progression for me coming back to tennis. Tennis will always be a big part of my life. I missed the competition."

Barty reckons the sabbatical saved her tennis career, and she's certainly made up for lost time now.

She is currently in her 84th consecutive week as World No.1 and the ninth-most in WTA history.

Earlier this year she became the first Australian woman since 1980 to win Wimbledon, adding the All England Club title to her Roland Garros crown.

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