Australian Open champ Osaka suffers shock exit in Dubai in first match since coach split
Osaka was competing as the top seed at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships - her first outing since capturing the Australian Open last month.
And her first tournament without coach Sascha Bajin in the stands saw her suffer a shock exit at the hands of the No.67-ranked French player, losing 6-3, 6-3 in just one hour, seven minutes.
Japanese starlet Osaka won the hearts of the sporting world with her thrilling run to the title in Melbourne earlier this year, but surprised many when she announced she had parted ways with coach Bajin shortly after the tournament.
At the time, Osaka said: "I wouldn't put success over my happiness. I'm not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around."Also on rt.com ‘I don’t have to put success over happiness’: Naomi Osaka on sudden split with ex-Serena coach
And, ahead of her defeat to Mladenovic, Osaka told reporters in Dubai that there were problems behind the scenes between her and Bajin during her run through the Australian Open championship.
"I think some people could see that, if they saw how we interacted," she explained.
"I'm not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I'm really grateful for all the things he's done.
"During the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it. I'm not sure, but I think you guys noticed."
She went into this week's tournament in Dubai without a coach, and explained that she is looking to find someone with a compatible mentality to her own and someone who can bring a positive outlook to her coaching.
Explaining the most important aspect she's looking for is "...just to have a positive mindset," Osaka said: "I don't want someone that's in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.
"[I'm looking for] Someone that's kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I'd rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back. That's one of the biggest things."
Osaka hopes to have a new coach in place in time for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which kicks off on March 4.