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Osaka feels ‘itch’ to make tennis return ‘soon’

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she will return to tennis soon after feeling the “itch” to play again.

Osaka said earlier this month she planned to take an indefinite break from the sport after an early exit from the US Open.

The 23-year-old had previously pulled out of the French Open and skipped Wimbledon to protect her mental health.

“I know I’m going to play again,” Osaka told HBO show ‘The Shop’.

Adding that her return would be “probably soon”, Osaka said: “I kind of have that itch again.

“It wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost, I’d just have the joy of being back on the court.”

Osaka, who recently dropped out of the top five in the world rankings, said her problems were exacerbated by speaking to the media after matches.

She had also made an early exit from Cincinnati last month, and had bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the early rounds in July.

“I used to love the competition and just being competitive,” she said.

“If I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me.

“I just started to feel recently the longer it was the more stressed out I became, but I just needed a break to go within myself.”

Osaka was fined for failing to meet mandatory media requirements after her opening round win at Roland Garros. She withdrew from the tournament a day later.

Roger Federer has joined calls to improve the relationship between players and the media. 

“Players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, ‘OK, what would work for you and what works for us,'” the 20-time Grand Slam winner told GQ magazine on Monday.

“We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today.

“Even when I am feeling down I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world’s press. We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too.”

The 40-year-old Swiss also said tennis needed to do more to help young stars, such as Osaka and US Open winner Emma Raducanu, deal with negativity and abuse on social media.

Britain’s Raducanu, 18, had received criticism after retiring from her fourth round match in her maiden Wimbledon appearance with breathing difficulties.

“It’s been amazing, both of their stories,” said Federer.

“But it hurts when you see what happens and when they don’t feel well. 

“The stress is so great. And I think a lot has to be down to social media.”

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