A Wiser Naomi Osaka Adjusts to Stardom, Even as She Briefly Stumbles


“I suppose one of many largest issues is I needed to be extra mature,” she stated. “I really feel like that is one thing I’m nonetheless engaged on — on and off the court docket. It’s one of many largest objectives that I’ve had in my whole life.”

“I might need thrown a couple of tantrums final yr,” she added. “And this yr it’s one thing that I’m engaged on bettering, and I really feel prefer it’s going effectively. I feel I’m simply extra assured in myself.”

Dismissing Sascha Bajin, her silken-voiced German coach, was actually a daring transfer. Beneath his steerage, she defeated Serena Williams, Bajin’s former employer, twice in 2018: as soon as within the first spherical in Miami and as soon as below rather more duress in the USA Open remaining. With Bajin nonetheless by her aspect, however apparently now not in her confidence, Osaka fought via one other rough-and-tumble draw to win the Australian Open in January.

Neither has defined their cut up intimately, though Osaka has stated it was not a matter of cash. She or some members of her workforce had been on the lookout for a lower-profile coach, however there have been clearly private points at work, too.

“One thing occurred that should not have been good, though that’s simply hypothesis,” stated Evert, who typically watched Osaka and Bajin prepare in Boca Raton, Fla. “They had been laughing and having enjoyable practices and teasing one another, and it was nice, after which simply earlier than the Australian and after the Australian, it was tense.”

Bajin is gone now, changed by Jermaine Jenkins, a former standout at Clemson College who spent a number of years as the primary hitting companion for Venus Williams, who dismissed her coach, David Witt, and Jenkins within the low season.

Jenkins was shortly employed as a nationwide coach by the USA Tennis Affiliation to work out of its nationwide campus in Orlando. He was simply settling in when he bought a textual content message from Osaka’s agent, Stuart Duguid, inquiring about his availability.


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