The 2021 Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka, has been inundated with congratulatory messages from former players and fans around the world. Osaka clinched her fourth Grand Slam trophy after beating Jennifer Brady in the final and became the third player in the Open Era to win their first four Grand Slam finals.
Recently, in an interview, German tennis legend Tommy Haas talked about watching Osaka play for the first time at the 2018 Indian Wells Masters. Haas recalled watching the then 21-year-old Osaka beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets and eventually winning her first-ever WTA title.
Haas’ first impression of Naomi Osaka
Watching Osaka’s aggressive game style made Haas believe Osaka would become a future superstar, a statement that has proved prescient.
“I remember watching this entire match, and it was a very tight game, I think Maria had some chances, but Naomi won that match 6-4, 6-4. And we were like saying, ‘Wow, this girl is really really good, I think she has a chance of getting far here. Next thing you know, she wins the tournament,” said Haas.
Being the director of Indian Wells, Haas mentioned watching Osaka give a speech during the presentation ceremony and remembered how nervous she sounded. Despite being highly impressed by Osaka’s tennis, her shyness came as a slight surprise for Haas.
“I think she was so nervous and it was the first tournament she’d ever won on the tour, and it’s such a big one, and she was so shy,” added Haas.
In fact, apart from her tremendous success over the last four years, Osaka has transformed from a shy individual to a confident media-savvy personality.
The victory in the final also increased Osaka’s overall winning streak to 21 matches and makes her climb to the No.2 spot in the WTA rankings.
The Japanese tennis star has inspired millions of young girls with her exploits on the tennis court and has also become the highest-paid female athlete in the world.