Tennis

Naomi Osaka splits with second coach this year

AFP-JIJI

Naomi Osaka announced Friday she is splitting with her coach, her second breakup this year as she battles for form and slips down the world rankings.

On the eve of the Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, the 21-year-old announced she will no longer be working with Jermaine Jenkins, who joined her team after her triumph at the Australian Open in January.

“Writing this to let you guys know that me and Jay won’t be working together anymore,” Osaka tweeted.

“I’m super grateful for the time we spent together and the things I learned on and off the court but I feel like now is a (sic) appropriate time for a change. . . . Thank you for everything, it was a blast.”

Osaka had already caught the tennis world by surprise when she announced she was parting ways with coach Sascha Bajin, who had overseen her stunning rise to win two Grand Slams — the U.S. Open in 2018 and the Australian Open title in January.

But her results since Melbourne have been patchy. She lost in the third round of the French Open to Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic, ranked 41 places below her in the world rankings.

She then suffered a humiliating first-round exit at Wimbledon to Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan before crashing out of this month’s U.S. Open in the last 16 to Swiss player Belinda Bencic.

Her form outside the Grand Slams has hardly been better, losing two quarterfinals during the U.S. hard-court season that has seen her slip from the No. 1 position in the world rankings to No. 4 on the latest list.

The split with Jenkins came as Osaka returned home for the Pan Pacific Open, where she reached the final last year.

Her main challengers in the event will be fellow top-10 players Kiki Bertens and U.S. sensation Sloane Stephens.

Angelique Kerber, who beat her in the first round in 2017, is also in the main draw for the competition, which will run from Monday to Sept. 22.