Naomi Osaka suffered another early major exit at the US Open on Tuesday and reflected on a difficult season.
Osaka is a four-time grand slam champion, winning twice at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2020.
However, the former world number one has not been able to contend in 2022, winning only two matches at majors – both at the Australian Open.
In fact, Osaka has not been beyond the third round at a slam since her most recent title in Melbourne at the start of 2021.
Tuesday's 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 defeat to Danielle Collins was just the 22nd Tour-level match Osaka has played this year.
"This year hasn't really been a great year," she said, adding: "I feel like everyone deals with injuries. I would say, for me, it's been more prominent this year.
4 - Naomi #Osaka has lost four matches in a row for the first time since 2018 (semifinals in Beijing and the three Round Robin matches at the WTA Finals in Singapore). Shadow.@WTA @WTA_insider #USOpen #USOpen2022 pic.twitter.com/ptWj8QmvSM— OptaAce (@OptaAce) August 31, 2022
"But I think it's something that I can learn [from]. I learned a lot more about my body, I learned what's weak, what I can do to prevent it.
"I would say the sport is definitely very physical, but it's my job to stay on top of it."
Given her fitness troubles, Osaka was just relieved to be able to play a competitive match against Collins, even if it was a fourth defeat in a row – her worst run since 2018.
"Honestly, the main goal was just to have fun," she said. "I don't know. I think that was kind of accomplished.
"Of course, it's more fun to win more rounds. We're just kind of winging it."