Even if she had lost, Naomi Osaka would still have felt like a winner.

The tennis star from Japan changed her view of life as a professional athlete almost three months after withdrawing from the French Open and making the depressive phases public.

At the tournament in Cincinnati, the world number two spoke openly about her state of mind and how she's going about things after moving into the last sixteen.

“I've had a really strange year.

I think some of you know what happened to me this year, ”said the 23-year-old after the hard-earned 4: 6, 6: 3, 6: 4 on Wednesday against US youngster Coco Gauff in the winner's interview.

It was the first match since the disappointingly early knockout round of 16 at the Olympics in Tokyo, where Osaka should have been one of the faces of the Games.

And it was the first win on the regular tennis tour since the French Open.

"I changed my attitude"

“I've changed my mindset a lot. Even if I had lost, I would have felt like a winner. So many things are happening in the world, ”Osaka said. She doesn't want to be anywhere else to play tennis except in the USA. She referred to Haiti - her father's homeland, which was shaken by a severe earthquake - and Afghanistan, where the Taliban have taken power again.

She also described the restricted life during the corona pandemic as stressful.

Moving in bubbles, having less contact and interaction was very stressful, reported Osaka, who grew up in New York.

The look at the events beyond tennis helped her to feel her own life as privileged again.

She wants to donate her prize money from Cincinnati for the earthquake victims in Haiti.

Osaka has come to appreciate the fans coming to see them play.

She no longer knows at what point she could not do that before, said the two-time winner of the US and Australian Open, who grew up in the USA.

Before the last Grand Slam tournament of the season in New York, which begins on August 30, Osaka appears to have crossed the valley through which it went to start the French Open. In Paris, she announced that she did not want to attend media rounds. "I was wondering what affected me so much," said Osaka, speaking of the headlines after defeats by other players. "And so I said to myself, every morning I wake up, I should feel like a winner." She was very ungrateful, said Osaka, looking back. Now just waking up in the morning is a victory.