World No. 1 struggling under media spotlight

Shyness is becoming a problem for World No. 1 Naomi Osaka, according to two-times Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

The increased scrutiny in the wake of her success at consecutive grand slams has seen Osaka struggle to deal with the pressures her fame has brought.

Dealing with the media is hard for anyone, but a tearful tearful Osaka admitted it was tough for her after a rare defeat to France’s Kristina Mladenovic in Dubai this week.

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic at the 2019 Australian Open Tennis Championships. Photo: Andy Cheung/ArcK Images/arckimages.com/UK Tennis Magazine/International Sports Fotos

Kvitova said Osaka would have to get used to having a target on her back.

“She’s No.1, grand slam winner, everyone just wants to beat her. That’s how players are thinking,” Kvitova, beaten by Osaka in the Melbourne final, said.

Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning the Women’s Singles Final against Petra Kvitova. Photo: Andy Cheung/ArcK Images/arckimages.com/UK Tennis Magazine/International Sports Fotos)

“I remember when I was young, I totally had same mindset. That’s how it is … it’s 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.”

World No.4 Kvitova clinched her first Wimbledon title in 2011 and found it difficult to build on that success.

“It took me a while … three years to win another grand slam. I was still in the top 10. I was still fighting, but in the big stages I couldn’t do it,” Kvitova, whose career stalled after a knife attack by a home intruder in 2016, added.

“She (Osaka) is kind of a shy person, probably like me at the time.”

“It was really difficult for me, that time, for sure. I totally understand Naomi.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber suffered a shock last-16 exit from the Dubai Championships after being beaten by unseeded Hsieh Su-wei 5-7 6-4 6-0.

Angelique Kerber wins third round match beating Kimberly Birrell. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd
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Taiwan’s Hsieh was two games away from defeat when Kerber rallied from 2-4 down to draw level at 4-4 in the second set, but the world No.31 won eight of the last 10 points to send the match to a decider. The 33-year-old then converted three break points to win.

Kvitova overcame American qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-5 1-6 6-3 to reach the last eight for the first time in six years.

Third-seeded Simona Halep joined Kvitova in the quarter-finals after the Romanian continued her comeback with a 6-3 7-5 win over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.

Elina Svitolina extended her winning streak in Dubai to 11 matches after defeating two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-2.

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