Fresh from ascending to the pinnacle of the sport, Japan’s World #1 Naomi Osaka has taken the surprise decision to split with her coach Sascha Bajin. It had been an unquestionably productive partnership, with Bajin guiding Osaka to titles at Flushing Meadows and Melbourne Park as well as in Indian Wells. Indeed, it was under the tutelage of the 34-year-old Bajin that Osaka broke through from being a highly regarded young gun to become the leading light in women’s tennis. The Japanese player announced the decision on Twitter on Monday.
Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha. I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) February 11, 2019
Bajin, who competed as a professional on the ATP Tour, had never previously worked as a head coach with a player before, but he was a long-time hitting partner for 23-time Major champion and former World #1 Serena Williams. He also worked with Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, and Caroline Wozniacki as a hitting partner. The insights he was able to give Osaka into their strengths and weaknesses appeared to be of great value to her, who scored a number of notable wins over her rivals at the top of the game while working with Bajin.
With Osaka now seemingly poised to dominate the sport having won the last two Grand Slams, it is unclear what has caused the split between her and Bajin. Personal or professional issues between the pair cannot yet be ruled out, but Osaka will be eager to avoid any major disruption to her season. With her title defense in Indian Wells set to begin in just over a month, one would assume the World #1 will have installed another coach before that tournament begins.
However, with most player-coach relationships being formed over the course of the off-season, the timing for Osaka is far from ideal with the majority of the elite coaches’ services already retained. However, as Osaka has shown on numerous occasions already in her career, she is capable of remaining calm even under the most intense of pressure. She will surely be hoping to do so again while her search for a new coach gets underway.
No reason was given for the split. We will update this post as more information becomes available.
Embed from Getty Images