Naomi Osaka has admitted to 2022 being a difficult year as she returns to tennis for the first time since her first-round loss at the US Open.
Osaka will play the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo this week - an event which is being held for the first time since 2019 - with her first-round match against Daria Saville (nee Gavrilova) on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes having had a dismal 2022 by her lofty standards, being knocked out of the French Open - like the US Open - in the first round, missing Wimbledon, and making only the third round of the Australian Open back in January.
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"This year has not been the best year for me but I've learned a lot about myself," Osaka said.
"Life is ups and downs, and this year was more down than up, but overall I'm pretty happy with where I am now.
Osaka, a four-time major champion, revealed it has not always been easy to deal with her fall down the world rankings, where she currently sits 48th.
She said: "It was kind of hard at first, just because I feel like I should be somewhere where I'm obviously currently not.
"I think for me it's more about being at peace with myself. I know that I'm here for a reason."
Osaka added that she was "over trying to fill people's shoes", after having often been seen as the successor to Serena Williams, who retired from tennis following the US Open.
"I don't think you can ever do that because everyone is unique, and we're all forging our own paths and we're all on our own journeys," Osaka said.
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