(Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka said her breakthrough victory in New York last month still felt “bittersweet” and is hoping that a strong end to the season could help her to feel better.
The Japanese player’s win in the U.S. Open final was overshadowed by a row between her opponent Serena Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos, which resulted in the 23-times Grand Slam champion being docked a game and fined $17,000.
The 20-year-old Osaka was reduced to tears as she waited to be handed her maiden major trophy and an angry crowd at Flushing Meadows took out their frustration on Ramos.
“The memory of the U.S. Open is a little bittersweet,” Osaka said after a routine 6-4 6-3 win over Zarina Diyas in the China Open on Monday.
“The day after, I didn’t want to think about it because it wasn’t necessarily the happiest memory for me. I wanted to move on at that point.”
Osaka said her feelings after winning a first Grand Slam could be compared to eating green tea ice cream.
“When you bite into it, it’s sweet but also strong. That’s how that memory feels... of course, I’m happy I won a Grand Slam. I don’t think there’s anything that can take away from that. But I don’t know.
“I feel like not that when I look back on it that it’s a bad memory, but it was so strange, I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to push it to the side.”
Osaka withdrew from last week’s Wuhan Open in China, hours after losing to former world number one Karolina Pliskova in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.
“I was lucky Tokyo was so close (to the U.S. Open) because I could immediately focus on the next tournament,” Osaka added.
“I didn’t think too much about what was going on... so maybe if I did have that time, I’d be overwhelmed... I’m still trying to take my mind off of it.”
World number six Osaka is on track to qualify for the WTA’s season-ending tournament in Singapore this month.
“I’m really focused on playing the Asian swing,” she said “For me the biggest goal is trying to get into Singapore.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond