Dubai: Two top-five players have spoken out in support of the new World No. 1, Naomi Osaka, who has been under the media glare and global attention since assuming the ranking after winning the Australian Open.
World No. 2 and No. 4, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, were forthcoming in their advice to the Japanese 21-year-old Osaka following her meltdown and subsequent loss to Kristina Mladenovic at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.
“I think it’s different to each player. I cannot say what she feels. It’s normal. She didn’t play since Melbourne. She won that title, very big title. It’s normal to have a little bit of letdown maybe,” Halep told media on Wednesday.
“But she will come back stronger. If she lost one match, it doesn’t mean that she has lost everything. She has to relax,” she added.
Kvitova was also sympathetic.
“I think that she is a kind of shy person, probably like me,” Kvitova said.
“It was really difficult for me, that time, for sure.”
She said she “totally” understood Naomi.
“It’s not really easy to handle the pressure and attention and the media,” Kvitova cautioned.
“She just needs the time. I don’t think there’s any advice.
“I think that she just needs to live it and find the experiences from it and she will be fine.”
“I think it took me like a year probably [to adjust]. Then three years to win another Grand Slam and I was still in the top 10. I was still fighting.
On the other hand, Kvitova said, the game is about experiences, and coming to the court “knowing that you are the favourite of every match”.
“Every player on the other side wants to beat you,” she said. “She’s No. 1, a Grand Slam winner and everyone just wants to beat her.”
“That’s how the players are thinking — I do remember when I was young, I had the same mindset,” the Czech added.