Anisimova lauds 'inspiring' Osaka for speaking up on mental health

2 minute read

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 21, 2022 Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. shakes hands with Japan's Naomi Osaka after winning their third round match REUTERS/Loren Elliott

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MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - American Amanda Anisimova praised Naomi Osaka for her authenticity after knocking her out of the Australian Open, saying it was "inspiring" to see the Japanese player speaking out on mental health issues.

Osaka withdrew from last year's French Open after being fined and threatened with expulsion for refusing to do media duties, which she said had contributed to the depression she had struggled with for years.

The four-times Grand Slam champion, who also skipped Wimbledon in 2021, exited the Australian Open on Thursday as Anisimova recorded a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-5) win in the third round.

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"I think she's really inspiring. What she's done the last couple of years is amazing, and just how authentic she is," Anisimova told reporters. "It was really cool to finally play her today.

"She just tells the truth about how she feels. I know she's gone through a really tough year last year, so I kind of feel for her today.

"I've gone through a couple of hard years, and I don't mind posting stuff on social media and just try to spread awareness for people who are also going through tough things. I think it's great to be relatable to other people who follow us."

The American reached a career-high ranking of 21 in 2019, but has struggled in recent years, falling to her current ranking of 60th.

"Yeah, last year was a huge struggle for me," Anisimova said. "Sometimes you doubt it, like what if I get injured and I'll never be able to play in a Grand Slam again?"

"Yeah, last year was just not great, all my results I wasn't happy with.

"I'm just really happy that I had a great preseason with my team. They've done incredible work with me. So it's also really important, the people that you surround yourself with, and that's what really helped me after this past year."

Anisimova will play Australian world number one Ash Barty in the fourth round, to whom she lost in the semi-finals of the French Open in 2019.

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Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis

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