Naomi Osaka fired coach Sascha Bajin last week, two weeks after winning her second straight Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
She did not give a reason, leaving a mystery as to why she would sever such a successful partnership. Some speculated it was a money issue.
On Sunday, Osaka opened up and said that happiness was her motivation for the move.
Osaka: Decision wasn’t about money
“Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn’t,” Osaka told WTA Insider. “That’s one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard. I travel with everyone on my team. I see them more than my family. I would never do that to them.
“I think my reason is I wouldn’t put success over my happiness. That’s my main thing.”
So what about Bajin affected Osaka’s happiness? She didn’t go into detail. But she did allude that Bajin was a source of negativity and a person she doesn’t like on a personal level.
Osaka: ‘I’m not happy around certain people’
“The biggest thing is I don’t want myself to think to be successful, I have to put success over happiness,” Osaka sad. “Because if I’m not happy being around certain people, I’m not going to torture myself. … So I’d rather just surround myself with people that I really like and that truly care about me and are just really positive. I think I’ve been able to do that.
“If I’m not waking up every day happy to practice and happy to be around the people I’m around, this is my life. I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.”
So yeah. Osaka reached the pinnacle of the sport with the help of a man that she didn’t like. And she decided it was time for a change.
Osaka happier since Australia
She said she wasn’t happy while winning the Australian Open and is happier since letting Bajin go.
“Compared to Australia, I feel really happy now,” Osaka said. “That’s the funny thing because I heard some people saying I looked really sad in Australia every day.”
Asked about what she seeks from her next a coach — a vacancy that’s still open as Indian Wells approaches — Osaka is looking for more positivity.
“I don’t want someone that’s in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.”
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