Naomi Osaka has been going through a rough patch recently after struggling through this early part of her comeback.
The Japanese player was super pumped to make her comeback to tennis, partly because she thought it was going to go really well. She even thought it was possible to win the Australian Open, something that, in retrospect, certainly didn't seem to be possible
Still, Osaka's motivation persists. This isn't some random comeback; this is a planned endeavor with lofty goals. She wants to be number one again and win more Grand Slams in the future, and she's really motivated to get it done.
Unfortunately, so far, it hasn't worked out well. The most recent experience at the 2024 Abu Dhabi Open particularly impacted Osaka, who lost in the singles to Danielle Collins easily. Later that day, she had to play doubles and lost that match as well, which was a huge blow.
It's a major blow to her confidence because she's not used to really struggling this much. The tennis side isn't a huge problem because she's playing fine, but fitness is a major problem, and it's not something that gets taken care of overnight.
She has to play more, and hopefully, things will work out. In her conversation with the media after the loss, Osaka admitted to being very self-critical, which shows how seriously she's taking this.
"I say some pretty harsh words about myself. I know the word, but if I say it, it sounds really bad. I felt a little like a ‘failure’, but I don’t want to be too harsh."
It's a very 'in the moment' expression, but you shouldn't doubt that she does feel like a failure. There is only one way to change that, though, so expect to see more Osaka in the coming weeks. Hopefully as far removed from failure as possible.