Defending champion Naomi Osaka in the spotlight at the start of the US Open, sports news

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Naomi Osaka is kicking off her bid for a third US Open title in four years on Monday to leave the turmoil behind as she chases her second Grand Slam title of 2021.

Osaka, made famous after beating superstar Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final, seemed set for a shiny 2021 campaign after beating American Jen Brady in the Australian Open final in February to win her fourth major crown .

However, she has since played sparingly and withdrew from the French Open after being fined for failing to meet mandatory media requirements.

Osaka, who said they believe post-game press conferences are damaging their mental health, also skipped Wimbledon and bowed after the magical moment of lighting the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics in the third round.

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Despite losing the third round in Cincinnati in August, Osaka said she was “pretty happy” with her game in the high pressure atmosphere at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

Looking at her opener against Czech Marie Bouzkova on Monday, Osaka said in a social media post that she wants to start enjoying her performances and letting go of negative thoughts.

“Lately I’ve been wondering why I feel the way I do, and I realize that one of the reasons is because I think inside that I’m never good enough,” she wrote. “I never tell myself I did a good job, but I know I keep telling myself that I shit or that I could do better.

“When I see everything that is going on in the world, I feel like waking up in the morning is a win,” Osaka wrote. “Your life is yours and you shouldn’t judge yourself by other people’s standards. I know that I give my heart to everything I can and if that is not good enough for some, then I apologize, but I can no longer burden myself with these expectations. “

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Osaka has already admitted that after last year’s banishment, some adjustments are needed to accommodate the return of fans to the 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The crowds at the normally noisy Open will again be at full capacity, although the organizers announced last week that all participants must prove that they have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination.

While world number one Novak Djokovic is waiting in the starting blocks, runner-up Daniil Medvedev ends the game on Ashe against French veteran Richard Gasquet on Monday.

The game begins with former women champion Sloane Stephens taking on Madison Keys in an All-American duel.

Get ready for your return.

Updated #USOpen health and safety protocols ⬇️

– US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 29, 2021 ×

Murray in Tsitsipas

Then former champions Andy Murray faces a daunting challenge as he continues his return from his most recent injury and faces third-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece.

“Not the easiest draw out there,” said Murray, whose 2012 US Open triumph was the first of his three Grand Slam victories.

“When you’re not seeded, things like this can happen,” Murray said, adding that he thought the New York crowd might be able to help him.

“They like people who fight, give their all, show their hearts, emotions and energy on the pitch,” he said.

Elsewhere on Monday, the former number one in the world, Victoria Azarenka, who fell in the final against Osaka last year, will meet the Czech Tereza Martincova in the stands.

Also in the stands, Simona Halep, who was forced out of her Wimbledon title defense with a calf injury, meets the Italian Camila Giorgi.

The women’s runner-up, Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, meets the Serbian Nina Stojanovic to open the night session on Louis Armstrong Court, where the up-and-coming US star Coco Gauff will host the day session and the quirky Australian Nick Kyrgios the curtain on the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut falls.