Clay hasn’t been a happy hunting turf for her so far, but Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka is determined to change her track record on the surface this year.
While the current World Number 2 reaffirmed her impeccable hard-court credentials with back-to-back Grand Slam titles on the surface at the 2020 US Open and this year’s Australian Open, she is still a work in progress on clay.
Naomi Osaka says she would love to lift a title on clay this year
Osaka reached the third round at the Roland-Garros in 2019 and 2018, which, though disappointing by her standards, was an improvement from her shock opening-round exit at the hands of unheralded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck in 2017.
The Japanese withdrew from the French Open last year, citing an injury.
During a press meet in Miami, where her unbeaten streak on hard courts came to an end following a shocking quarter-final defeat to Greek World Number 25 Maria Sakkari, Osaka was quizzed on her ambitions going into the clay-court swing this year.
She said that she does want to give a better account of herself on clay and is keen to bounce ideas off her coach Wim Fissette, adding that he is “excited” for her to be playing on “new” surfaces.
“I’d love to win a tournament on clay… I’m going to learn a lot from Wim. He’s very energetic and excited to move on to the new surfaces,” Osaka said.
Osaka says she feels bad for the support staff every time she loses
Osaka added that she has barely lost a game since ace Japanese trainer Yutaka Nakamura, who has previously worked with former Russian star Maria Sharapova, among others, joined her coaching contingent.
The 23-year-old Japanese said that she feels gutted for her support staff every time she loses and would love to bring smiles to her team as well as her fans with a good run of results on clay this year.
“I haven’t lost since Yutaka came. It’s just a good energy to have for me,” Osaka said. “I feel really bad for my team whenever I lose, but they are all very, very supportive”.
The Japanese was in sight of regaining the World Number 1 ranking from Australian Ashleigh Barty with a championship win at Miami. However, her hopes crashed as she fell to a straight-set defeat to Sakkari.