Last month 21-year-old Japanese player Naomi Osaka had to withdraw her name from the Italian Open, a week before the start of the French Open, now prepares for the biggest tour of Wimbledon at the Birmingham Classic this week. The World number one still thinks that she has a long way to go to turn pro in order to be really successful on the court. And, she isn't wrong!
Osaka secured her first two Grand Slams at the US and Australian Open since her last outing on a grass court, when she was thrashed for the loss of six games by Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber.
Osaka maintained top place in the WTA rankings on Monday in top 20 with two weeks to go to Wimbledon.
“Grass, I’m not really that comfortable with it,” said Osaka on Monday, Scroll.inreported. “As a little kid, I never played on grass. It’s always the first tournament that’s the hardest. I have only practiced twice on grass because it was raining a lot. So, I guess I’m feeling as good as I can. It’s just really different from everything I have played on,” she added.
By improving her forms everyday reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka said, “Whenever I come to grass I can only remember the last match I played which is always Wimbledon and last year I played against Kerber and she kind of crushed me. I’m going to try and think about that match of course, but think about everything that I did, like sort of improved during the year.”
“It was kind of refreshing because I felt like since the US Open things have been going so fast, so I felt like I really needed a break and it was good for me,” Osaka said into the the second week at Wimbledon for the first time
Naomi became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion – man or woman – after thrashing her idol, Serena Williams, in last year’s US Open final. She went toe-to-toe with the 23-time Grand Slam champion and defeated her.
Naomi has been playing professional tennis since 2013. Her major breakthrough came when she became an international sensation after beating Angelique Kerber in the first round of the US Open in 2017. In addition to defeating Kerber, Naomi has won matches over other long-time tennis greats, including Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep. She is eyeing gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Feature Image Credit: Cosmopolitan