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It Still Hurts: Sascha Bajin Says End of Player-Coach Relationship with Naomi Osaka Felt Like Break-up

It Still Hurts: Sascha Bajin Says End of Player-Coach Relationship with Naomi Osaka Felt Like Break-up

Japanese star Naomi Osaka won the US Open and Australian Open consecutively when Sascha Bajin was her coach.

World No.1 Naomi Osaka's former coach Sascha Bajin has bared his heart in his upcoming book 'Strengthen Your Mind: 50 Habits for Mental Change', which will be published in Japanese on July 11.

Bajin was Osaka's coach for a year in a period where the Japanese won two consecutive Grand Slam titles - US Open and Australian Open. However, days after winning in Melbourne, Osaka announced she was ending her coaching partnership with Bajin.

In his book, Bajin says he doesn't hold any grudge against Osaka for ending their partnership and even left the door open for further collaboration.

"Right now, it still hurts, but I certainly don't hold a grudge against Naomi for ending our partnership. I was there to help her achieve her dreams, and it was always going to be her decision whether we continued working together or not.

"I could even see myself working with Naomi again, should she want to. I like to think that it's not over and that we could work together further down the road. There have been occasions in tennis when a player and a coach have split, and then reunited, so it wouldn't be the first time; it wouldn't be that unusual. Naomi is taking a different path for now, and so am I, but who knows what will happen in the future?" WTA quoted Bajin's book.

Osaka had revealed after Bajin's departure that she was emotionally very down and she was not happy to be coming to practice everyday.

"If I'm not waking up every day happy to practice and happy to be around the people I'm around, this is my life. I'm not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around. I have to be happy with where I am at my life," Osaka had told WTA Insider.

Bajin, however, said she was devastated when Osaka's agent told him that Osaka was bringing their "player-coach relationship to a close". He further said there was nothing he wouldn't have sacrificed to help Osaka.

"I put a lot of love and emotion into helping Naomi, as well as dedication and hard work, and I'm proud of what she accomplished. I can't think of another job which has as little job security as a tennis coach working with an elite athlete, as the player can suddenly decide at any moment to end the partnership. But that still didn't prepare me for the devastating call from Naomi's agent passing on the news that Naomi wanted to bring our player-coach relationship to a close.

"There was nothing I wouldn't have sacrificed in order to help Naomi. I can't think of anything I wouldn't have done to help her. She was fully aware of that. I can sleep well at night because I couldn't have tried any harder, or done any more, for Naomi," Bajin wrote.

Bajin admitted that after the amount of time he spent with Osaka for a year, such an abrupt end to the relationship could sometimes "feel like a break-up".

"When you work as closely with someone as Naomi and I did, and it then ends abruptly, it can feel like a break-up. I was with Naomi almost every day of the year - we only spent 13 days apart in 2018 - and it was intense. It's normal that I miss working with her and being around her," Bajin writes.

"I miss her quiet personality, her shy smile that comes through, her sarcasm. I miss driving from my home in Palm Beach Gardens to the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton in Florida, where we trained. More than anything, I'm going to miss talking to her. I really care about Naomi and think she's a super sweet girl."

first published:June 17, 2019, 23:24 IST