Naomi Osaka won't be retaining her Australian Open title after the Japanese star exited the tournament in the third round on Friday.
The 24-year-old lost in a three-set thriller to unseeded American Amanda Anisimova.
The 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) defeat to the 20-year-old New Jersey native not only marked the world number 13's departure from the first Grand Slam of the year but it also, thankfully, highlighted an improvement in Osaka's demeanor.
Osaka, who has publicly spoken about her mental health struggles and difficulty with fulfilling media duties, appeared relaxed in her 15-minute post-match press conference.
“I would definitely say I’m proud of myself for this.
“I was really focused throughout the entire match, and I didn’t have a dip. So that’s really good. Hopefully as the season continues, I’ll be able to keep this up and get even better at it.
“I fought for every point. I can’t be sad about that.
“I’m not God! I can’t win every match."
Osaka shocked the world of tennis and beyond when she withdrew from last year's French Open and didn't play at Wimbledon, saying both decisions were in relation to her ongoing mental health struggles.
She then lost to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open, where she was also the defending champion.
Speaking in tears after that loss she said she didn't know when she may play again.
Just over four months on and Osaka is almost unrecognisable.
Not only is she comfortable speaking in front of the press, she seems genuinely comfortable in herself and with her game going forward.
"I feel like I grew a lot in this match.
"The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude.
"Of course I lost [today], but I’m happy with how it went. I just want to go into this year knowing that I’ll play the whole year and I’ll just have the greatest attitude ever.”
Anisimova now has the massive task of taking on world number one Ashleigh Barty in the next round, as the Queensland woman attempts to win her home major for the very first time.
It won't be there first meeting - she lost to Barty in the semi-finals of the French Open in 2019.
She's positive thought about where she is as she looked ahead to the encounter.
“I’m just really happy that I had a great pre-season with my team.
"They’ve done incredible work with me. So it’s also really important, the people that you surround yourself with, and that’s what really helped me after this past year.”
Elsewhere, reflecting upon the gravity of knocking out the defending champion, she had only positive things to say about Osaka, highlighting her strength and courage to show her vulnerabilities.
“She just tells the truth about how she feels. I know she’s gone through a really tough year last year, so I kind of feel for her today.
I’ve gone through a couple of hard years, and I don’t mind posting stuff on social media and just try to spread awareness for people who are also going through tough things. I think it’s great to be relatable to other people who follow us."
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