Naomi Osaka will end her stellar debut WTA Tour campaign at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with a loss but the 18-year-old is refusing to dwell on that particular defeat. Japan’s inaugural Grand Slam champion lost her second-round match 6-2, 7-5 to Lucie Safarova on Saturday.
Earlier in the tournament, Osaka became the first Asian woman to reach the quarterfinals at a Slam in the womens’ singles, coming within a game of the quarterfinals in the womens’ doubles with US player Madison Keys.
“I think this was a great learning lesson. It was my first Masters 1000 and I have a lot to learn. And I’m definitely looking forward to coming back next year and trying to do even better.
“I mean, this first year is always pretty cool and it’s always been my goal to go to the Grand Slams and then to make it all the way to the finals of a Grand Slam. And I think that’s where my whole focus is on. For every other tournament, I can only really focus on the things that I need to work on, focus on my game and the things that I can control.
“And I think for Cincinnati, I tried to focus on my game and tried to just focus on that, and I think that’s the only way to go. I mean, I have all these great memories and I didn’t want to be negative and I tried to make the best of everything that I had in Cincinnati.
“And it wasn’t to be, but I’m happy with the way I played, and so at the end of the day, I mean, it doesn’t matter if I win one tournament or I lose one tournament, it’s all about the journey. So I’m going to really cherish every single day that I have playing tennis. And I know that I can sleep at night.”
On the doubles side, she made it to the final, partnering with Keys, who was defeated by U.S. teammates Coco Vandeweghe and Danielle Collins.
“I think my doubles partner was really enjoying the moment, which was amazing,” Osaka said of Keys. “But now I’m working with her for the next two months and we’re playing a lot of doubles so it’s tough. But I love Coco and Danielle. They’re two amazing players. So I think it’s going to be really great.”
Osaka’s victory at the U.S. Open came in the first Grand Slam of the season. She won the trophy by defeating Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in a three-set match.