Naomi Osaka has said her split with coach Sascha Bajin was about putting "happiness" before "success."
The world No. 1 spoke to press before the WTA event in Dubai, her first tournament since she announced on social media that the two would not be working together anymore. The decision was met with surprise because of the success of their partnership, which saw Osaka win two Grand Slams and get to No. 1 in a little more than a year together.
"Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn't," Osaka was quoted by WTA Insider. "For me, that's one of the most hurtful things I've ever heard. I travel with everyone on my team, I see them more than my family. I would never do that to them."
While the 21-year-old said she did not want to "say anything bad" about Bajin because of his contribution to her career, Osaka made it apparent that she had been unhappy with the partnership on an interpersonal level.
"If I'm not waking up happy to practice and happy to be around the people I'm around," she said. "I'm not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.
"I would not want to split on really bad terms, because of course he was sort of the one who made me open up to people, so I didn’t want it to be a really hostile thing.
"The problems were there even during her run to the title in Melbourne, according to Osaka. "It was kind of brewing in Australia, and I think some people could see that," she said. "During the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it."
Osaka plans to play Dubai and then look for a new coach. She would like to have found someone by Indian Wells, and is looking for a coach with a positive attitude.
"Yeah, someone that's kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I'd rather have someone say it directly to me than go around my back," she said.
The split is among a number of recent coaching changes by top WTA players, including several Grand Slam champions. And with No. 2 Simona Halep also announcing a stop to a recent coaching trial, neither of the top two women on tour currently has a coach.