Naomi Osaka feeling ‘that itch’ to return to tennis

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka may be on a tennis break currently, but she could be returning to the hardcourt soon.

The four-time Grand Slam champion says she is getting “that itch” to play again.

Osaka appeared on HBO’s “The Shop,” where she said she still loved tennis and was already looking to get back on the court.

“I know I’m going to play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again,” she said. “But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I’d just have the joy of being back on the court.”

In explaining her decision to take another break from tennis following the US Open, Osaka said that a run of tough matches had begun to take their toll.

Osaka first stepped away from tennis after withdrawing from the French Open, citing mental health. She returned for the Olympics, where she lost in the third-round. At this year’s US Open, Osaka was upset by Leylah Fernandez, who went on to finish runner-up to Emma Raducanu.

“I used to love the competition and just being competitive,” Osaka said. “If I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me.

“Then 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.”

It’s unclear when Osaka’s return would be. Last week, the 23-year-old withdrew from the tournament at Indian Wells.