'Hurtful': Osaka denies split with coach was about money

The German had helped guide Osaka to back-to-back Grand Slam triumphs, with her win at the US Open past year.

Bajin, a former hitting partner for Serena Williams, has been credited with helping Osaka improve the mental aspect of her game during her breakthrough season and was named 2018 WTA coach of the year.

"Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn't", the Japanese player said.

"[The most important thing for me is] just to have a positive mindset", Osaka said. Going into the first Grand Slam of 2019, she was ranked 4th in the world, and thanks to Indian Wells now finds herself at the summit of women's tennis.

"The biggest thing is I don't want myself to think to be successful I have to put success over happiness, because if I'm not happy being around certain people I'm not going to torture myself".

"I'm not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I'm really grateful for all the things that he's done", Osaka said. "If anything, you would have to be around him to see, or ask him". I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted.

"I would not want to split on really bad terms. I didn't want it to be really, like, hard stopping".

And the 21-year-old revealed it was a decision that had been coming since the Australian Open, where she overcame Petra Kvitova in the final.

"If I'm not waking up happy to practise and happy to be around the people I'm around, this is my life", Osaka said. "I'm really grateful for everyone that's around me at this time".

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"It's not really ideal to go to Indian Wells without a coach".

"All the people that I have right now, they're all willing to do the things that he (Bajin) does".

"I think during Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it", Osaka said.

Having made the Australian Open final, Kvitova had to take a short break from the game to testify against the man who attacked her in 2016, reliving the traumatic life-threatening ordeal that left her with nerve damage in all five fingers of her left hand.

The Romanian could well face Osaka if she makes it to the semifinals, but will fancy her chances of reaching her first final in Dubai since she claimed the trophy in 2015.

Osaka will begin in the second round against France's Kristina Mladenovic, who defeated Oman's Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday. Every tournament is hard.

The move bewildered many because of the Japanese player's recent success.

Halep will open her tournament against either a resurgent Eugenie Bouchard or Vera Lapko, with a tricky potential Doha rematch against Elize Mertens to come by the third round, which should she win would set up a blockbuster showdown against either Aryna Sabalenka or Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. "But I truly appreciate now what I do as a job and I consider myself very lucky to be able to travel to fantastic cities like Dubai to do my job, it's insane", Bouchard told Sport360 at the draw ceremony at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday. So I am happy to be back.

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