Naomi Osaka stunned the tennis world on Sunday night as she surprisingly announced a split with coach Sascha Bajin just 16 days after winning the Australian Open. The world No. 1 has won back-to-back Grand Slam titles en route to claiming the top ranking in the women’s game but Bajin has now fallen by the wayside. Bajin enjoyed an eight-year stint as Serena Williams’ hitting partner, before working with Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki but had appeared to found his perfect match with the quirky Japanese No. 1.
The German was named as the inaugral WTA coach of the year after guiding Osaka from outside the world’s top-70 to a first Grand Slam title, beating Serena Williams in a controversy-filled US Open final. But Osaka confirmed their 13-month journey together was over just a matter of weeks after winning the Australian Open. She posted a brief statement on Twitter, saying: ‘Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha. I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future.
No reason has ben given for the parting of ways just yet but Bajin replied: ‘Thank you Naomi 🙏🏽 I wish you nothing but the best as well. What a ride that was. Thank you for letting me be part of this.’ Just six months ago, Bajin had outlined his plans to be with the 21-year-old for the long haul. He told the WTA’s official website: ‘I believe in longevity and that if you work with someone for a longer period of time you can work more efficiently. ‘You know them better. It’s just a more intimate thing.’
Curiously, all three reigning Grand Slam champions have all split with their coaches following their relatively recent success. Simona Halep parted with Darren Cahill and Angelique Kerber with Wim Fissette, but Osaka’s split perhaps tops the list of biggest shock. The top-ranked WTA star is due to compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week.