I'd rather surround myself with people I really like - Osaka explains coach split

Naomi Osaka hopes to have a new coach in place by Indian Wells in March.

Japan's Naomi Osaka.   -  Getty Images

World number one Naomi Osaka said she would rather surround herself with "people that I really like" after splitting with coach Sascha Bajin.

Osaka announced last week that she was ending a partnership that had yielded two grand slam titles and seen her climb to the top of the rankings.

And the 21-year-old revealed it was a decision that had been coming since the Australian Open, where she overcame Petra Kvitova in the final.

"I think during the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it," Osaka said. "I'm not sure, but I think you guys noticed.

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

Naomi Osaka (R) and Sascha Bajin (L)   -  Getty Images

 

"I'm not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I'm really grateful for all the things that he's done. I wouldn't come here and say anything bad.

"The biggest thing is I don't want myself to think to be successful I have to put success over happiness, because if I'm not happy being around certain people I'm not going to torture myself."

Speaking to WTA Insider, she added: "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. I have to be happy with where I am at my life. I feel like I worked really hard - maybe not for 21 years, but for 17 years - to be number one and to win grand slams.

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"Everyone around me is really good at change and adapting. You kind of have to do that to be around me. If you're not then it gets a little bit tough. Everyone around me was really supportive and I'm just really grateful I have smart people around me."

Osaka, who is accompanied by Japan Tennis Association coach Masashi Yoshikawa for the Dubai Tennis Championship, hopes to have a new trainer in place by Indian Wells in March.

"[The most important thing for me is] just to have a positive mindset," she added. "I don't want someone that's in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.

"Yeah, someone that's kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I'd rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back. That's one of the biggest things."