Naomi Osaka, the defending US Open champion, was stunned to lose her third-round match to Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in three sets, as the world No. 3 and four-time major champion displayed uncharacteristic signs of frustration on the court and expressed doubts afterward.
“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” Osaka said through tears in a press conference. “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”
In the second set, Osaka, who was leading by a set, broke Fernandez for a 6-5 lead. Osaka, on the other hand, was unable to close out the match when serving for the title. Osaka slammed her racquet to the court during the tiebreak.
The world No. 73 broke Osaka to start the third set, and Fernandez, 18, would win the tiebreak to force a final set. Soon after, Osaka threw a ball into the crowd, resulting in a code violation for ball abuse.
Fernandez won the match with scores of 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4.
The 19-year-old Canadian will face Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the No. 16 seed and three-time major champion.
In her on-court interview, Fernandez, who had a fantastic match, credited the crowd, saying that the Canadian had a lot of support from the crowd.
“It felt so energetic,” the Canadian teen told ESPN. “The fans were amazing. They were so loud. They helped me so much throughout the second set and then the third. I’m just so happy to be on the big stage finally.”
In her on-court interview after the win, she said she knew “from the very beginning” that she could beat the defending US Open champion.
“Right before the match I knew I was able to win,” she said.
“Yeah, I’m really sorry about that. I’m not really sure why. Like, I felt like I was pretty — I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point,” she said.
“I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don’t feel happy,” she said. “I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”
After being fined $15,000 for refusing to speak to the media at Roland Garros in May, Osaka withdrew from the French Open and decided not to compete in this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
Osaka’s composure was questioned by Fernandez during the match.
“Honestly I wasn’t focusing on Naomi,” Fernandez said. “I was only focusing on myself and what I needed to do.”
When it came to turning the match around against Osaka when she broke back to tie the second set at 6-6, Fernandez said, “I guess I wanted to stay on the court for a little longer and put on a show for everyone. On the court, one hour was simply not enough for me.”