Tearful Osaka says she is struggling with 'attention' after shock loss
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Tearful Osaka says she is struggling with 'attention' after shock loss

A teary Naomi Osaka admits she's struggling to cope with the attention she's received since splitting with her coach just weeks after winning the Australian Open and becoming world No.1.

The 21-year-old Japanese star opening up after suffering an upset loss in her first match since claiming her second grand slam title in Melbourne last month.

Upset: world No.1 Naomi Osaka struggled with her service game against the Frenchwoman.

Upset: world No.1 Naomi Osaka struggled with her service game against the Frenchwoman.Credit:AP

She fell 6-3,-6-3 to world No.67 Kristina Mladenovic at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday night.

Osaka wiped away tears at her post-match media conference as she answered questions over her decision to part ways with coach Sascha Bajin, who helped her to the US Open and Australian Open titles and the top ranking.

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"I don't really like attention. So it's been a little tough," Osaka said.

"No offence to you guys but I'm pretty sure, as time goes on, you guys will stop talking about it.

"But for now, It's like the biggest tennis news. It's a little bit hard because I feel like people are staring at me - and not in like a good way."

Earlier in the week Osaka had felt compelled to address the split with Bajin in an interview she did for the WTA.

"Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn't," Osaka said. "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."

In her loss in Dubai, Osaka won 48 per cent of her first serve points and made 25 unforced errors, folding in just over an hour.

Mladenovic hit three fewer winners than Osaka's 19, but made nine unforced errors and converted seven of the 10 break point opportunities she carved out en route to registering her first career victory over a reigning world No.1.

"It means a lot, honestly," Mladenovic said after the match.

"I know I'm capable of beating great players. I did that in the past exactly on this court."

The Frenchwoman, who is ranked 67th in the world, faces Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the round of 16.

Suarez Navarro beat China's Shuai Zhang earlier on Tuesday.

Osaka's shock exit was the most dramatic result on a day in which most of the other big names in action progressed safely to the third round.

Rising star: Osaka ascended to the summit of women's tennis after winning the Australian Open last month.

Rising star: Osaka ascended to the summit of women's tennis after winning the Australian Open last month.Credit:AP

Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova rallied from a set down to beat Czech compatriot Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, while third seed Simona Halep advanced with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory over Canadian wildcard Eugenie Bouchard.

Kvitova, the second seed, was almost the architect of her own downfall with nine double faults in the match, but recovered to set up a clash with American qualifier Jennifer Brady.

Brady pulled off another of the day's upsets when she beat 14th seed Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 7-5, joining compatriot Sofia Kenin in the next round.

Kenin ousted last year's Dubai runner-up Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and Alison Riske beat France's Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-3 to mark another good day for the Americans in Dubai.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina also advanced after her second-round opponent Ons Jabeur of Tunisia was forced to retire with an apparent shoulder injury while trailing 7-6 (7-4), 4-0.

Reuters

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