Naomi Osaka goals for all-surface dominance to fulfil potential


Not too lengthy after Naomi Osaka received the Australian Open girls’s remaining to enhance her grand slam title haul to 4 in 4 makes an attempt, the hype actually started. Sure sports activities web sites tweeted about her as a potential GOAT whereas followers predicted loads of main titles to return. Expectations skyrocketed.

It’s comprehensible, in fact, as a result of what she has achieved is astounding and well timed. Girls’s tennis has been on the lookout for somebody to take the tour by the scruff of the neck for greater than a decade. No person might have imagined the individual to take action can be so cold-blooded that she would snatch her first 4 grand slam finals and break into the general public consciousness so simply. As Justine Henin stated on Eurosport: “To me, girls’s tennis has a brand new boss. Naomi Osaka has this capability, she has taken one other dimension.”

Her profession trajectory presents a possible title haul tennis hasn’t encountered in a while. Over the previous decade on each males’s and girls’s excursions, the grand slam titles have been received by both 4 of the best gamers of all time or those that have managed just one to a few titles. In a means, the massive three in males’s tennis and Serena Williams have tricked folks into believing that successful 20 or extra main titles is straightforward. It’s not. Solely with time will Osaka point out precisely the place she is heading.

There must be additional persistence as a result of tennis is a sport performed on totally different surfaces. Osaka is basically the very best profile hard-court specialist of all time. Whereas solely Williams, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles have received extra grand slam titles on arduous courts than her, Osaka has by no means handed the third spherical at both Roland Garros or Wimbledon.

Requested in her press convention which floor she sees herself successful her subsequent main title on, Osaka identified that her discomfort away from arduous courts is as a result of she didn’t compete within the junior circuit. “Hopefully clay as a result of it’s the one which’s sooner,” she stated. “For me, I really feel like I’ve to get snug on these surfaces. That’s the important thing factor that, you recognize, I didn’t play juniors, so I didn’t develop up enjoying on grass in any respect. So I truthfully suppose I’d have higher luck on clay, as a result of I feel final yr I didn’t play unhealthy in any respect. It’s simply one thing that I’ve to get extra used to.”

One would suppose her monumental serve and fondness of the Williams sisters would lead her to look on a future the place she will be able to dominate on grass courts, however grass is definitely the floor on which she is least snug. She continues to be uncertain of her footing and she or he is irritated by the decrease, inconsistent bounces. In 2019, she fell within the first spherical of Wimbledon towards Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

Conversely, Osaka has made real progress on clay, in 2019 reaching the semi‑remaining of the Stuttgart WTA 500 and the quarter-finals at each the Madrid and Rome WTA 1000 occasions. Her motion can also be a problem there; she as soon as stated she feels extra snug sliding on arduous courts than clay. Getting used to the “pure surfaces” would require extra work and, in all probability, extra losses from which to study. There must be no shock after they first arrive.

As Osaka seemed on from her triumph in Melbourne, she additionally recognized her objective as to duplicate her kind from week to week. It’s one thing she has proven is able to doing, each in her present run over the previous six months and her sturdy run of kind on the finish of 2019 however she is but to piece collectively a full, sturdy season.

“For me, I don’t play probably the most tournaments within the tour,” she stated. “I simply wish to do nicely in all the tournaments that I play. That’s my objective – to be constant this yr, to not have an enormous drop-off randomly within the center part like June, July, how I normally do.”

Osaka has marked herself down as each the current and future determine of tennis, however she nonetheless has a protracted option to go to unlock her full potential and even to reveal what it may very well be. As an alternative of holding her to impossibly excessive requirements, it might be extra satisfying simply to comply with her improvement wherever it takes her and to benefit from the trip.

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