Naomi Osaka eyes tennis return 'soon' after feeling 'itch' to play again

Naomi Osaka did not say when she would return to tennis when she announced she was taking a break after the U.S. Open. Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka looks set to return to tennis shortly after getting "that itch" to play again.

Osaka said at the U.S. Open earlier this month that she would take a break from the game to concentrate on her mental health following a third round defeat by Leylah Fernandez.

But the 23-year-old player said on HBO's "The Shop" that she still loved the sport and was already looking to get back to the court.

"I know I'm going to play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again," she said. "But it wouldn't really matter to me if I won or lost. I'd just have the joy of being back on the court."

Osaka, who has slipped to seventh in the world rankings, said tough matches had begun to take their toll on her and she needed the break to refresh.

"I used to love the competition and just being competitive. If I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me," she said.

"Then I just started to feel -- recently -- the longer it was the more stressed out I became. But I just needed a break to go within myself."

Roger Federer has added his voice to the growing calls for changes in how players and the media interact after the issue of players' mental health came into the spotlight when Osaka withdrew from the French Open in a row with tournament officials over media duties.

Sloane Stephens and Shelby Rogers also spoke after their U.S. Open matches about how social media abuse impacted on their mental health.

Federer, who shares the men's record of 20 major titles with Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, said the situation needed a rethink.

"I think players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, 'OK, what would work for you and what works for us,'" Federer told the British GQ magazine on Monday.

"We need a revolution. Or at least an evolution of where we are today.

"Even when I am feeling down I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world's press. We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too."