Osaka told reporters after her 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over Astra Sharma that on the advice of her sister and coach, she decided to look into therapy for the stresses that come with being a professional athlete.
“My sister seemed very concerned for me,” Osaka said. “I’ve been trying a lot of different things because I tend to internalize things, and I always want to do everything myself. Wim (Fissette her coach) said, ‘You hire a coach for tennis, for fitness. The mind is such a big thing. If you can get a professional to help you out .5 percent, that alone is worth it.”
STAY UP-T0-DATE: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!
She said the therapist has already helped with strategies to use and ways to reset, and she said she already sees how helpful it is, using them during her match Wednesday.
On March 12 at the start of her second match of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, a fan shouted “Naomi, you suck” during a silent moment. The former World No. 1 was clearly rattled by the comment, teared up at points throughout the first set and went on to lose that match to Veronika Kudermetova.
She opened up Wednesday about that moment.
“The situation in Indian Wells, I’ve thought back on it and realize I’ve never been heckled. I’ve been booed, but not a direct yell-out thing,” she said. “It kind of took me out of my element. I feel like I’m prepared for it now. I was bracing myself before the match to know it could happen. I just needed to change my mindset.”
She was greeted with positive reactions from the crowd Wednesday in her first match since that night.
Just like she was at the BNP Paribas Open, Osaka is in the Miami Open as a wild card entry because she is still ranked outside the top 75 players in the world rankings. With her win, she advances to face Angelique Kerber in her next match.
“Honestly, for me, I just didn’t want to let anything bother me today no matter what happened,” Osaka said Wednesday. “The last match that I played was not the greatest memory for me. I just wanted to prove that I could come back out here and compete.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Naomi Osaka says she began going to therapy after Indian Wells heckler