18 Feb 2019

Tennis: Split not down to cash says Osaka

2:54 pm on 18 February 2019

The women's world tennis number one Naomi Osaka is adamant her shock split with coach Sascha Bajin has nothing to do with money.

The 21-year-old Japanese player says it was because she was determined that her career would not be about putting "success over happiness".

The German Bajin had guided Osaka to back-to-back grand slam titles as well as to the summit of the WTA rankings.

But just two weeks after her triumph at the Australian Open, Osaka abruptly severed ties with Bajin.

That led to suggestions the two had fallen out over money.

Naomi Osaka still feels bittersweet about her U.S. Open victory.

Naomi Osaka after her win at the U.S. Open last year. Photo: Photosport

"Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn't," Osaka told the WTA in Dubai.

"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.

"My reason is I wouldn't put success over my happiness; that's my main thing.

"I'm not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around."

Bajin, a former hitting partner of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, was named as the WTA's coach of the year in 2018 after his success with Osaka.

During their time together, Osaka rocketed from 72nd in the world at the start of 2018 to the top of the rankings last month.

Osaka, the 2018 US Open champion, said it was clear things were not right between them during the season's opening major.

"It was kind of brewing in Australia. I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted," she said.

"I would not want to split on really bad terms. I'm not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I'm really grateful for all the things he's done.

"During the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it.

"I'm not sure but I think you guys noticed."

Osaka said she hopes to have a new coach in place by March.