Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022

Mats Wilander ‘unsure we’ll see the Osaka who wins Slams’ after shock Australian Open defeat

Mats Wilander and John McEnroe feel Naomi Osaka faces a tough return to her best after her Australian Open exit, with McEnroe saying “she’s put herself in an extremely difficult position.”

After her shock Australian Open defeat to Amanda Anisimova, defending champion Osaka has remained positive despite her early exit.

At the start of the new year, four-time Slam titlist Osaka said she hopes to have a better 2022 season as she tries to be kinder to herself and enjoy her tennis more.

This comes after she withdrew from both the French Open and Wimbledon last year when she suffered with periods of depression and anxiety.

Whilst opponent Anisimova and Slam legend Venus Williams were supportive of her bringing mental health issues to the forefront of public discussion, many others were critical of the lack of pressure including Germany’s greatest ever player Boris Becker.

Now Mats Wilander and John McEnroe have weighed in on Osaka’s return to form prior to her hiatus and both think it will be difficult for her.

Speaking on the Eurosport Cube, seven-time Slam winner Wilander said “I’m not sure if we’re going to ever see the great Naomi Osaka, who’s going to win Grand Slam tournaments, again.

“But I think it’s really important we realise that it’s going to be tough for her. I don’t think we should expect Osaka of old to be back and I think she needs to look forwards.”

Similarly, nine-time doubles Slam titlist John McEnroe said “it is an extremely difficult position she has in some ways put herself in.

“Bringing the concept of mental health to the forefront of the conversation is a great idea, but it has brought attention to her.

“However, now we’re going to be discussing in more detail how is she going to handle losing match points? How is she going to handle losing early? Is she going to play a lot of events before the French Open? Will she play Wimbledon?

“She is going to have a lot more light on her and she is going to have to be prepared to handle that.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.