TOKYO. — Japan’s Naomi Osaka heads to Melbourne looking to defend her Australian Open title following a tumultuous 2019 which saw her reach world number one, change coach twice and become the second-highest paid female athlete on the planet.
Osaka’s victory over Petra Kvitova in Melbourne last year earned her a second consecutive Grand Slam title following her success at the 2018 US Open but she quickly found herself struggling to cope with the pressure of being world No. 1.
Osaka split with coach Sascha Bajin shortly after her win over Kvitova and in August said she, “hadn’t had fun playing tennis” since Melbourne.
That same month business magazine Forbes placed her second to only rival Serena
Williams in the list of highest paid female athletes over the previous year.
Following disappointing performances at the remaining Grand Slams, Osaka regained some form towards the end of last season, picking up titles at the Pan Pacific Open and China Open. – Reuters