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Naomi Osaka has posted a brutally candid admission about her struggles in 2021, admitting that her “extremely self deprecating" personality is holding her back from celebrating her own achievements.
The 23-year-old goes into this week's US Open grand slam as the world's number three ranked female player, looking to clinch the fifth major title of her burgeoning career.
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Osaka has been beset with challenges in 2021 after announcing a media blackout and pulling out of the French Open grand slam to work on her mental health.
She also skipped Wimbledon before returning for a crack at her home Olympic Games in Tokyo, where the 23-year-old suffered a shock early exit.
Taking to social media before her US Open campaign gets underway, Osaka admitted that it was time she took a different outlook on life.
The Japanese star admitted she was often the architect of her own demise and promised not to be as hard on herself, and to celebrate her successes more.
“I’ve been reflecting over the past year. So grateful for the people around me because the support I feel is completely unparalleled,” Osaka posted.
“Recently I‘ve been asking myself why do I feel the way I do, and I realise one of the reasons is because internally I think I’m never good enough.
“I‘ve never told myself that I’ve done a good job but I do know I constantly tell myself that I suck or I could do better.
“I know in the past some people have called me humble but if I really consider it I think I’m really self deprecating. Every time a new opportunity arises my first thought is, ‘Wow, why me?’
“I guess what I‘m trying to say is that I’m gonna try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more, I think we all should.
“Your life is your own and you shouldn‘t value yourself on other people’s standards.
“I know I give my heart to everything I can and if that‘s not good enough for some then my apologies, but I can’t burden myself with those expectations anymore.
“Seeing everything that’s going on in the world I feel like if I wake up in the morning that’s a win. That’s how I’m coming.”
The 23-year-old Japanese star lit the flame in the Olympic cauldron at the Tokyo Games, but has played only two matches since Japan ahead of the Open.
"I know I haven't played that many matches. I know that I haven't even gotten to a quarter-final," Osaka said.
"Actually I feel pretty happy with how I'm playing... I feel pretty confident with where I am right now. Of course I'm not declaring that I'll do amazing here. I'm the one-match-at-a-time like person.
"Hopefully it will work out in the end."
Osaka ended her media boycott at the Cincinnati Masters, where she broke down in a press conference after an aggressive line of questioning from a local reporter.
"I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself," Osaka said.
"I'm proud of what I did and I think it was something that needed to be done."
Osaka captured last year's US Open title by defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final, becoming the first woman since 1994 to rally from a set down to win the US Open final.
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At this year's Australian Open, Osaka saved match points against Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and beat 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the semi-finals before defeating Jen Brady in the final.
Osaka, ranked third, has won her first four Grand Slam finals, trailing only Roger Federer's run of seven and six by Monica Seles for the best Slam final start in the Open Era (since 1968).
She will open this year in New York against Czech Marie Bouzkova. Osaka could meet Coco Gauff in the fourth round, Ukraine's fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals and Belarus second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals.
Australia's Ash Barty, in her 83rd consecutive week atop the world rankings, has rolled to wins at Wimbledon and Cincinnati, putting her on best form entering the Flushing Meadows fortnight.
The 25-year-old Australian's 2021 titles also include Miami, Melbourne and Stuttgart and boosted her career total to 13.
"I feel comfortable and ready," Barty said. "I feel good, I feel ready. Certainly been a big year and we've still got a bit to go yet."
Barty won her first major title at the 2019 French Open and her second trophy in London put her halfway to a career Grand Slam.
"I hadn't even thought about it," Barty said. "It took me 25 years to get the first two, so let's hope it doesn't take another 25 to get the next two. We'll leave it at that."
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