Naomi Osaka feels the 'itch' to play again

Former world No 1 had been on a break from tennis following her third-round exit at the US Open to concentrate on her mental health

Naomi Osaka says she has "that itch" to return to tennis, saying she hopes to be back on court again "soon".

Osaka revealed after exit at the US Open this month that she would be taking a break from the game to concentrate on her mental health following a third-round defeat by Leylah Fernandez.

The four-time Grand Slam champion has struggled for form since she withdrew from the French Open in May following a row with tournament officials over required media appearances, which she said had a negative impact on her mental wellbeing.

But the 23-year-old Japanese player said on HBO's The Shop that she still loved the sport and was already looking to get back to the court, though she gave no time rame for her return.

"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."

Osaka, who has slipped to seventh in the world rankings, said tough matches had begun to take their toll on her and she needed the break to refresh.

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

"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."

Updated: September 27th 2021, 7:53 AM