Naomi Osaka is preparing for a difficult return to the French Open, a year on from citing mental health issues when she withdrew from the tournament.

Former world number one Osaka has won four grand slam titles but never been past the third round at Roland Garros.

She entered the 2021 French Open having taken the Australian Open title at the start of the year, only for her campaign in Paris to blow up in a way she was desperate to avoid after she announced she would not be fulfilling her media duties.

Having been fined, Osaka ultimately quit the tournament after winning in the first round, describing her "huge waves of anxiety" when speaking to reporters.

She had been warned by grand slam chiefs that she could be thrown out of the event if she continued to refuse to take part in media duties.

The Japanese superstar took a significant step on Friday then when she appeared in a pre-tournament news conference.

Yet that has not been Osaka's only concern, as she is also conscious of the possibility of a repeat of events at Indian Wells earlier this year, where a heckler reduced her to tears.

"I'm not gonna lie," Osaka said, "when I first came here, I was very worried.

"Of course, I also didn't like how I handled the situation, but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would bump into them.

"But I think everyone has been really positive, for the most part. I'm not really so sure.

"I was also very worried about this press conference, because I knew I'd get a lot of questions about this. But I think, for me, where I am right now, I wouldn't want to say it hasn't left my mind.

"Of course, I'm still thinking about it, and I'm kind of also prepping just in case I go on the court and a fan says something like in Indian Wells. For the most part, I think I'm okay."

Osaka was then asked how she had found the news conference and explained she was still figuring out how to talk to reporters again.

"I feel like I was funnier back then," she replied with a smile. "Like I used to be able to say jokes and not really care if anyone got it. I could re-explain the joke, and whatever.

"I feel like the thing that's changed, me trying to figure out the crowd. I feel like I'm a stand-up comedian, and I'm trying to figure out what's okay and what's not okay.

"I think maybe that's changed for me. I'm kind of analysing what I can say and what I can't say. But for the most part, I try to be myself and whatever."

Attention turned to tennis, and Osaka's first-round match is against Amanda Anisimova, who beat her in her previous grand slam match in Melbourne.

"So, my reaction was I thought that Wim [Fissette, her coach] was joking," Osaka said.

But she added: "I wouldn't say I don't want to play her, because I feel like, for me, I'm the type of person that if you beat me, it motivates me more to win, and I also learned a lot from the match."

Indeed, Anisimova was not the opponent the unseeded Osaka feared most, with 2020 champion and current number one Iga Swiatek having won her past five tournaments.

"I had a dream a couple of days ago that the draw came out, and I had to play Iga," Osaka said.

"For me, I was scared, because I was thinking: what's the worst possible player to play when I'm unseeded? She came in my mind, so thank God that didn't happen."

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are all on the same half of the draw at the French Open, while women's world number one Iga Swiatek will face a qualifier in the first round at Roland Garros.

Djokovic, who will make his Grand Slam return having missed the Australian Open, opens in Paris against Yoshihito Nishioka, while record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal meets Australia's Jordan Thompson.

The veteran pair of Djokovic and Nadal could challenge each other in the quarter-finals in the top half of the draw, where Alcaraz could come across world number three Alexander Zverev.

Alcaraz faces a qualifier in the first round and has won 16 of his last 17 matches, with the one blemish on his remarkable run coming against Sebastian Korda, who the Spaniard could meet in the third round.

Daniil Medvedev will have to get past Argentine Facundo Bagnis in the first round, while Lorenzo Musetti stands in the way of last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are joined in the wide-open bottom half of the draw by Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev, who meet home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and South Korea's Soonwoo Kwon respectively.

In the women's draw, 2020 champion Swiatek comes in as favourite and will look to continue her 28-match winning streak when she faces a qualifier in the first round, as does US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

The Brit will then take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Wang Xinyu before a potential last-16 meeting with Ons Jabeur, who first has to get past Poland's Magda Linette.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova – who has a first-round clash with France's Tessah Andrianjafitrimo – could set up a quarter-final meeting with Swiatek, but the Pole may have to get past Simona Halep in the fourth round first.

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova starts against Diane Parry, while Naomi Osaka was drawn against the in-form Amanda Anisimova, who beat the Japanese in the third round of the Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka has told Kyrie Irving there is "always room" after the NBA star asked if "hoopers" were welcome in her new agency.

The four-time grand slam winner – who withdrew from the Internazionali d'Italia this week due to an Achilles injury she suffered at the Madrid Open – announced on Wednesday she was leaving IMG to start her own agency, Evolve, with long-time agent Stuart Duguid.

Duguid told Reuters the venture will be a "small boutique and bespoke agency" that will only welcome athletes "who transcend their sports; or those with the potential to do so".

Irving is one of the leading players in the NBA, and the Brooklyn Nets star hinted at his interest on Twitter, messaging Osaka on Wednesday to ask: "yall got room over at your agency for hoopers. Just inquiring" with an emoji of two champagne flutes clinking together.

Osaka replied on Thursday simply saying: "always room" with the same champagne emoji as well as one of a basketball.

The 24-year-old said on Wednesday that the move was to make the "next step" in her journey "as an athlete and a businesswoman", telling Sportico: "I've spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn't what was expected or traditional.

"Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way."

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Internazionali d'Italia due to an Achilles injury she suffered at the Madrid Open.

The four-time grand slam winner was beaten 6-3 6-1 in the second round in Madrid by Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo last week, who she was due to face again in Rome.

Osaka looked uncomfortable throughout in the Spanish capital and appeared to struggle with the injury during a disappointing second-set display.

Her place in the first round will be taken by lucky loser Nuria Parrizas Diaz, who will now face Sorribes Tormo.

"Unfortunately I’m going to have to withdraw from Rome as the injury which I picked up last week in Madrid hasn't healed yet," Osaka said in a statement on the WTA's website. "It's an Achilles injury so I need to be careful especially in advance of Roland Garros.

"I love this city and always enjoy playing in front of the Italian fans so I will be sorry to miss them – but look forward to coming back next year."

The WTA confirmed on Monday that Clara Tauson of Denmark has also withdrawn from the tournament with a back injury, and will be replaced by Madison Brengle as a lucky loser.

Naomi Osaka joined several other big names in falling to a second-round exit at the Madrid Open, although Emma Raducanu cruised to a routine straight-sets win over Marta Kostyuk.

Four-time grand slam winner Osaka crashed to a resounding 6-3 6-1 loss to Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, exiting her first tournament on clay since the 2021 French Open, where she withdrew citing mental health issues.

Osaka, who had posted an underwhelming 20-15 record on the surface prior to this week, looked uncomfortable throughout and appeared to struggle with a leg injury during a disappointing second set display.

The 24-year-old was not the only high profile player to be on the receiving end of a shock during a day of drama in the Spanish capital, as several of the competition's seeds failed to secure places in the last 16.

Another home favourite, Garbine Muguruza, fell to a resounding loss of her own as Anhelina Kalinina raced to a 6-3 6-0 victory over the seventh seed, while sixth seed Danielle Collins was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Fourth seed Maria Sakkari was the highest-ranked player in action, and although the world number five won the first set of her clash with Daria Kasatkina, the Greek eventually fell to a 3-6 6-3 6-1 loss, while 2021 US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez went down 6-4 6-4 to Jil Teichmann.

One big name who did make comfortable progress, however, was Fernandez's US Open conqueror Raducanu, who eased to a 6-2 6-1 win over Kostyuk to set up a last-16 encounter with another Ukrainian in Kalinina. 

The 19-year-old, who has been quoted as saying she believes clay could prove to be her best surface in the future, was delighted with her victory and enjoying the tournament after dropping just one game in the second set.

"I'm definitely happy with my performance," Raducanu said on court. "Marta's a great opponent - I knew it was going to be a really tough battle. I went out there trying to be really aggressive and it paid off.

"It's my first clay court season and I'm really enjoying it. Madrid is such a cool city and it's got such a great vibe about it. I definitely want to try and stay here for as long as possible."

Naomi Osaka was encouraged by her 2022 clay-court debut, winning her opening match at the Madrid Open against Anastasia Potapova.

The former world number one has not played on the red dirt since the 2021 French Open, where she withdrew citing mental health issues.

Heading into this week in Madrid, Osaka had an underwhelming 20-15 record on clay, with each of her grand slam successes coming on hard courts.

But the 24-year-old has spoken of adjusting her approach and learning from clay king Rafael Nadal – and the early signs were positive.

She needed just over an hour to defeat Potapova 6-3 6-1 on Friday and said: "I'm honestly trying to be more positive with myself.

"This year I came a week early to train on red clay, so I'm just trying to give myself more chances to do better.

Osaka added: "To be able to do it in two sets, for me, it's a really good starting block. 

"I think today for me it was really fun, just being able to be back on the clay and not taking those moments for granted."

Fellow hard-court major champions Emma Raducanu and Bianca Andreescu also won their openers, although the latter required three sets to eventually coast past Alison Riske 6-4 3-6 6-0.

Raducanu will play another 19-year-old in the second round, with the US Open champion paired with Marta Kostyuk after getting over a slightly slow start to thrash Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

Fourth seed Maria Sakkari overcame a scare, meanwhile, ending her losing run at three matches by coming from behind to defeat Madison Keys in three sets.

"Overall, it was a very positive match to get myself back in the winning feeling," the Greek said.

Naomi Osaka believes teen tennis star Carlos Alcaraz has rejuvenated excitement around the ATP Tour, while she labelled Rafael Nadal as an inspiration ahead of the Madrid Open.

Alcaraz needed just 67 minutes to defeat Spanish compatriot Pablo Carreno-Busta 6-3 6-2 at the Barcelona Open last Sunday, claiming his third title of the season after wins in Rio de Janeiro and Miami.

The 18-year-old has surged to a career-high ninth in the world rankings, Alcaraz becoming the youngest player to crack the top 10 since fellow Spaniard Nadal achieved that feat at the same age in 2005.

Coincidentally, Nadal also broke into the top 10 after success on the same day (April 25) at the Barcelona Open and the pair will next compete in Madrid in the ATP 1000 Masters event, which starts on Sunday.

Former women's world number one Osaka revealed she is keen to cast an eye over the duo in the Spanish capital, where she faces a qualifier in the first round, as she hailed the impact Alcaraz has had.

"I feel like he's genuinely made everyone excited about the ATP and I haven't seen that in a very long time," Madrid Open wildcard Osaka said of Alcaraz, who boasts an impressive 23-3 record in the 2022 season.

"I'm not even really thinking about his age, like every time someone brings up his age, I'm like, 'Oh wow, I forget, that's so cool'.

"I think just his game style, just how pumped he is, how I feel like I'm watching him learn with every tournament.

"I don't know what his ranking was last year here, but I've watched almost every tournament that he's played, the US Open when he played [Stefanos] Tsitsipas and just to see the growth I think is really exciting for everyone."

Osaka has won all four of her grand slam titles on hard courts, but the 24-year-old will now search for clay-court success in Madrid.

Japanese Osaka has spent time preparing in Majorca, where she has used 13-time French Open winner Nadal as an inspiration, given his expertise on clay courts.

"I think I stole one of the things that he did and I've been practising it recently," she said of Nadal, who holds the record for most men's grand slam titles with 21 major triumphs to his name.

"It'll either go really good or really bad. There's like no in between. But I think as I've been doing it, it's been going pretty well.

"Honestly I've been wanting to watch the really good clay-court players practice because I feel like I'm the type of person that learns really fast if I see it up close and honestly it's a bit of a waste to have all these really good professional tennis players and not watch them."

Osaka suffered a second-round exit at the Indian Wells Masters in March, impacted by abuse from a heckler in the crowd, but rebounded by making the final in Miami, where she lost to world number one Iga Swiatek.

However, Osaka is looking to use the experience at Indian Wells, where she was reduced to tears by a spectator reportedly shouting "Naomi, you suck", as a learning curve to develop.

"I feel like there are a lot of moments in my career that are like extremely sad for me at the time but I kind of later look back on it and I think to myself, 'Well that really made me grow as a person, and even though I really hated the experience, I'm glad it happened to me'," she added.

"For me, that's one of those moments. I wish it didn't happen, but also I'm glad that it did.

"I feel like it prepared me for a lot of things that may or may not happen, but it's kind of like one of those things you have in your back pocket as experience."

Iga Swiatek scored a sensational win against Naomi Osaka in the Miami Open final and predicted it would mark "the start of a great rivalry".

A 6-4 6-0 victory for Swiatek means the new WTA number one has won three consecutive WTA 1000 titles, becoming the first player to do so at the beginning of a season.

Saturday's success sealed the 'sunshine double' as the 20-year-old captured the Indian Wells and Miami titles back to back, becoming the youngest player to achieve that feat, and only the fourth in history, after Steffi Graf, who did it twice, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka.

Addressing Osaka, Swiatek said: "I wanted to say I'm pretty glad we could play this match, and I think it's the start of a great rivalry.

"You're really an inspiration and this sport is better with you, so keep going."

Osaka is battling her way back into the sport after documenting her struggles with mental health and depression, and her ranking stood at 77 before this tournament.

She was reduced to tears in Indian Wells after being heckled by a spectator, and the Japanese star, a former WTA number one, referenced that incident in a post-match speech after losing to Swiatek.

Thanking her support team, Osaka said they were "the ones who keep pushing me forward after the things that happened two weeks ago – they're the rock that stays by my side".

Although Swiatek beat her resoundingly in the final, these two appear to be close allies, with a meal they enjoyed together in Australia in January 2020 having sparked a friendship.

"I want to congratulate Iga," said Osaka. "I was just thinking yesterday about when I had that dinner with you in Australia, and watching your journey is really incredible, and I hope you continue having fun. Apparently we're tied 1-1 now."

Osaka, who beat Swiatek in Toronto three years ago in their only past meeting, said her conqueror was "an incredible, amazing person", and assured her own supporters she had been having "a lot of fun".

"I hope I can keep working hard and get more opportunities to be in a situation like this again," Osaka added. "Just to be in the final means a lot to me."

That is both pertinent and refreshing given Osaka's future in tennis has appeared in doubt during the past year.

Swiatek, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. From her French Open final triumph in October 2020 to this latest win, she has won each of the six finals she has contested. Across the last four, Swiatek has won four 6-0 'bagel' sets.

Doing the Indian Wells and Miami double, after previously taking the Doha title this year, shows Swiatek to be a worthy number one.

"I didn't think that was possible," she told Amazon Prime, assessing her back-to-back wins in America. "I'm trying to see what my limits are, and when I was coming from Indian Wells, I said to my coach, 'Did you ever have a situation like that where a player plays the final at Indian Wells and has to play the next match in three days?'. He said that I shouldn't worry and we can do it."

Swiatek's winning streak stands at 17 matches, her record for the season is 26-3, and she has won 20 consecutive sets. Her new number one status will be confirmed on Monday, when the newly retired Ash Barty is taken off the WTA list, and Swiatek hopes to stay there.

"We're going to see. The end of the season is still a long way," she said. "I hope I'm going to keep doing well with the pressure."

Iga Swiatek sealed the 'sunshine double' with a trouncing of Naomi Osaka as the new world number one added the Miami Open title to her Indian Wells triumph.

Twenty-year-old Swiatek will succeed the retired Ash Barty on top of the WTA rankings on Monday, and she has reached the top spot for the first time in staggering style.

A 6-4 6-0 victory against former number one Osaka in Saturday's final made Swiatek the first player to win the first three WTA 1000 events in a season.

Those are the highest value tournaments on the tour outside the grand slams, and Swiatek has chopped down the fields in Doha, Indian Wells and now Miami in staggering fashion.

Her winning streak stands at 17 matches, her record for the season is 26-3, and she has won 20 consecutive sets.

Swiatek set the tone for the match when she broke for a 3-2 lead in the opening set, whipping an exquisite backhand winner across court to seize the initiative.

She had a look-in next time around too, with Osaka doing well to fend off a break point and keep the Pole within touching distance.

The first set was secured when Osaka hoisted an aggressive forehand service return long, and that ramped up the pressure at the beginning of the second

In a flash, Swiatek earned herself three breakpoints, and although Osaka saved the first with a drive volley, the Japanese player sent a forehand into the net on the next point

Swiatek was displaying some startling shot-making, and a cross-court forehand winner in the third game was a thing of beauty, helping her establish a double break.

Osaka is battling her way back into the sport after documenting her struggles with mental health and depression, and her ranking stood at 77 before this tournament.

By reaching the final she proved her talent remains formidable, but Swiatek at present is on another level to her tour rivals, and a clinical sweep of the second set was complete when Osaka hooked a forehand wide.

Only three players had previously secured this back-to-back double in Miami and Indian Wells: Steffi Graf in 1994 and 1996, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Victoria Azarenka in 2016. Swiatek is the youngest to achieve the feat.

Naomi Osaka is through to her first tournament final since her 2021 Australian Open win, getting past Belinda Bencic 6-4 3-6 6-4 at the Miami Open on Thursday.

The reigning Olympic champion looked strong early, breaking twice to go up 4-1 as she took advantage of Osaka's second serve, winning nine of the 11 second serves she saw in the opening set.

As Osaka's success on second serve cleaned up in the second set, Bencic's avenue to victory vanished, unable to save either of the two break points she faced in the second set.

Osaka's first serve percentage shot up to 70 in the deciding set, winning 87 per cent of points on first serve (20-23) to shut the door. Despite Bencic breaking back once after going down a double-break, she was unable to stop her Japanese opponent from serving it out.

Speaking on court after her win, the Florida native was emotional, shedding some tears as she thanked the fans in attendance.

"I just wanted to say thank you everyone, the atmosphere was really good," she said.

"Damn, I'm always crying. I just wanted to say thank you, this tournament really means a lot to me and it's my first time in the finals here."

World number-one-in-waiting Iga Swiatek twice came back from a break down in the second set to overcome the challenge of American Jessica Pegula 6-2 7-5.

The straight sets win for the 20-year-old Polish star means she has now not dropped a set in eight straight matches dating back to the fourth round at the Indian Wells Open where she beat Angelique Kerber two sets to one. 

Against Pegula, Swiatek was simply too strong in the opening set, breaking twice in four tries when Pegula's second serve was vulnerable, with the American only winning 27 per cent of her second serve points (4-15) in the opening frame.

The second set was far more competitive, but Swiatek remained just slightly better both on serve and in the return game in a set where four consecutive games resulted in breaks in a seesawing contest.

Pegula refused to let the top seed serve it out comfortably, saving two match points to extend the second set at 5-5. It was just delaying the inevitable as Swiatek broke back instantly and held her nerve, and serve, to avoid a tie-break.

 

Naomi Osaka will make her first Miami Open semi-final appearance after defeating Danielle Collins 6-2 6-1 on Tuesday.

The Florida native and the 2022 Australian Open finalist were worlds apart on serve, with Osaka putting up 13 aces, while Collins served seven double faults and had a meagre first-serve rate of 37.8 per cent.

While dropping only three games provides ample reflection, Osaka was in almost total control, winning 28 of 38 total points on serve and over half of the points on return with 26 out of 45. Her 25 winners to three unforced errors only reinforced the dominant nature of the win.

The Japanese former world number one has not dropped a set en route to the semi-final, and did not face a single break point against Collins, who called a medical time-out to address a neck issue after the first set.

"I'm glad I was able to get through quickly," Osaka said post-match. "I focused on trying to hit a lot of really good returns.

"This is actually my first night match too, so I didn't know what the conditions were going to be like."

Osaka will face reigning Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, who comfortably saw her way past Daria Saville with a 6-1 6-2 win.

The Tokyo gold medallist progressed to her first WTA 1000 semi-final since Madrid in 2019, needing just 69 minutes to defeat the unseeded Australian.

With Saville serving at 51 per cent for the match, Bencic was all over the second look, winning 18 of a total 23 points in those scenarios.

The critical element of the match was the Swiss 22nd seed's ruthlessness on break point, converting seven out of total eight times.

World number two Iga Swiatek showed why she is next in line to occupy the top ranking as she comfortably handled the challenge of 14 seed Cori Gauff 6-3 6-1 to earn a spot in the quarter-finals at the Miami Open.

Swiatek, 20, will become the first Polish-born man or woman to earn the number one singles ranking when it is next updated on April 4, after Ash Barty's retirement, and she never gave Gauff a chance.

She won all eight of her service games in the match, and broke Gauff's serve four times in eight chances to rattle off five consecutive games to close the match.

After a walkover in her last fixture, Naomi Osaka was strong on her way to a 6-3 6-4 win against Alison Riske.

Both women produced break points throughout the match, but while Osaka saved seven out of eight, coming back to double-break after her slip-up in the second set, Riske could only save nine of 12.

In a clash between top-10 seeds, Danielle Collins was terrific in her 6-2 6-4 win against Ons Jabeur.

The match was decided by each woman's success on their second serve, as Jabeur had the better first serve, but could only win 31 per cent of her second serves (8-26), while Collins was an even 73 per cent on both her first and second attempts.

Daria Saville continued her march back up the rankings with a 5-7 6-4 7-5 win against Lucia Bronzetti, making it nine wins from her past 10 matches for the Australian ranked 249 in the world after recently returning from a long-term achilles injury.

Saville will play Switzerland's Belinda Bencic after she breezed past Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-3, while Petra Kvitova got the better of higher-ranked Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

American Jessica Pegula was nearly flawless on her way to a 6-0 first set before Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina retired due to injury, while world number six Paula Badosa beat wildcard Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2 6-3.

 

Naomi Osaka moved into the fourth round at the Miami Open without even taking the court on Saturday, getting a walkover victory as Karolina Muchova withdrew.

The former world number one claimed straights sets victories coming into Saturday and had her run eased even further, with Muchova citing abdominal injury after almost five hours on court in her opening two matches.

Muchova has been sidelined due to the injury for the last seven months, missing the US Open in 2021 as well as the Australian Open this year.

"I'm sad that I cannot put up a battle against Naomi today." Muchova tweeted. "After a long break from tennis, two tough matches in [a] row have been a lot for my body and I need longer to recover."

While Lucia Bronzetti also won in a walkover, Osaka will face Alison Riske, who defeated fellow unseeded American Ann Li 6-2 3-6 6-3.

In her third match since losing to Ash Barty in the Australian Open final, Danielle Collins defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-4 in 78 minutes.

The American world number 11 has had to deal with numerous niggling injuries this season, including a viral illness that left her with significant neck pain.

"There was obviously an emotional moment for me, the pain I'm dealing with right now with this injury," she said post-match.

"Just trying to work through that, I think is one of the hardest things we go through mentally when we're on court."

Fellow seeds Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur also made their way through to the fourth round, defeating Heather Watson and Kaia Kanepi respectively.

Both won with relative comfort, with Bencic winning 6-4 6-1, and Jabeur only dropping three games in the opening set to triumph 6-3 6-0.

Naomi Osaka is through to the third round of the Miami Open after beating former world number one Angelique Kerber in straight sets.

Osaka won the first three games of the match to jump out to an early lead, securing the set with a double-break before breaking early in the second to cruise to a 6-2 6-3 win.

The story of the match was Osaka's ease in winning points against Kerber's serve, winning 41 per cent (15/37) of Kerber's successful first serves, while the German could only win 11 per cent (3/27) in the same category.

Britain's top-ranked woman Emma Raducanu suffered another early exit, on the wrong end of Katerina Siniakova's comeback 3-6 6-4 7-5 win.

Naomi Osaka looked relaxed and composed as she eased to a straight-sets win at the Miami Open, and offered a clue as to why when speaking to reporters afterwards.

The 24-year-old revealed she has started seeing a therapist after her recent loss at Indian Wells, where she suggested a heckler had affected her performance.

Osaka was left in tears as she struggled to deal with someone apparently shouting "Naomi, you suck!" during her second-round defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

She also withdrew from Roland Garros last year, citing mental health concerns.

However, the three-time grand slam champion produced a strong display in her first round encounter in South Florida to beat Astra Sharma 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

"I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but I finally started talking to a therapist after Indian Wells. It only took like a year after French Open," she told reporters after her win.

"She kind of told me strategies and stuff. I realise how helpful it is. I'm glad that I have people around me that told me to, like, go in that direction.

"But, yeah, I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to."

The world number 77 revealed it was partly her sister, former professional player Mari Osaka, showing concern that led her to seek out therapy.

"I feel like I've been trying a lot of different things because I tend to internalize things, and I also want to do everything by myself," Osaka clarified, adding that her coach, Wim Fissette, had also encouraged her to do so.

Osaka believes she is now better prepared to handle a similar situation to Indian Wells should it arise, having realised it may have been the first time she has been heckled during a game.

"I think for me, the situation in Indian Wells, I've kind of thought back on it. I realise I've never been heckled. I've been booed, but not like a direct yell-out kind of thing. It kind of took me out of my element.

"I feel like I'm prepared for it now. I was kind of bracing myself before the match to just know that's a thing that could happen now. I think I just needed to change my mindset a little."

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