Focus and Forehand Chaotic in US Open Loss

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, August 31, 2022

NEW YORK—Moments after Danielle Collins showed Naomi Osaka the door in the US Open first round 7-6(5), 6-3, the former No. 1 paused for a momento of her 94-minute stay.

Osaka pulled out her phone and snapped a shot of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

More: Carlos Alcaraz Q&A

When Osaka takes a mental snapshot of this loss she says two issues come into focus: chaos in her head and a forehand out of focus contributed to her demise.

“When I said my head is everywhere, I just mean, like, I’m the type of person that thinks a lot, to the point where I overthink,” Osaka said. “Sometimes when I play matches, I have to tell myself to, like, stop thinking, just go more on instinct, yeah.

“I don’t know. I feel like I just have to chill a little bit because there’s a lot of like random chaos in my head right now.”

It was Osaka’s third straight opening-round exit and fourth first-round loss in her last six tournaments since she lost to Iga Swiatek in the Miami Open final.

Despite recent lack of match play and a cranky back, Osaka still served effectively.

The two-time US Open champion served 65 percent and cracked eight aces against no double faults. But Australian Open finalist Collins ravaged Osaka’s second serve winning 17 of 22 points played on the Japanese’s second serve.

Finishing points with her declarative forehand has helped Osaka capture four Grand Slam titles, but her forehand was flighty on Tuesday night.

Osaka suggested two possible remedies for sharpening up her forehand: practice and watching Carlos Alcaraz play.

“Lately I felt really restrained. I’m not really sure why,” Osaka said. “I’m beginning to feel like I can’t hit the shots that I know I can, like especially on my forehand. I don’t know if it’s a matter of practicing more or something like that.

“I just don’t have the same feeling. So maybe I need to watch like Alcaraz or someone that’s really good at hitting.”

Photo credit: Manuela Davies/USTA/US Oepn

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