The reigning Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka is preparing for the upcoming Madrid Open which will act as a preparatory event for the Roland Garros. The Japanese tennis star recently interacted with the media and there she admitted that she has not played on clay for the last two years but she is feeling well here at the moment. Osaka has been upbeat with her practice session and feels that she has been striking the ball really well.
“I think I’m hitting the ball pretty well,” Osaka said. “I can only hope that for now that’s good enough.”
The 23-year-old last played in clay when she featured in the 2019 Roland Garros. She pulled out of last year’s French Open due to travel concerns and since then she has mostly played on hardcourt events.
“At the end of the day, I haven’t played a clay tournament in two years,” Osaka continued. “Haven’t touched clay in two years either.”
She explained how she performs better when he does not put much pressure on herself. But she also admitted that it is difficult for her to curb that fighting nature when she really wants something.
“I do better when I don’t stress myself out and tell myself that I have to win,” she explained. “But it’s really hard to fight that feeling when you really want something.”
Osaka has a history with the Madrid Open as she has been a part of the main draw twice- in 2018 and 2019. The young Japanese entered the qualifying draw in 2016 but failed to advance to the main event. In 2018 she made her debut in the Madrid Open but sadly crashed out of the competition after losing to Zhang Shuai in the first round of the event.
Osaka took some giant steps in her career and came back stronger in the following year. She was determined to improve on her last event at the Spanish capital and hence she reached the quarterfinals. The current World No. 2 defeated the likes of Dominika Cibulkova, Sara Sorribes Tormo and Aliaksandra Sasnovich and made a solid run to the last eight in 2019. She got knocked out in the quarterfinals in an exciting contest with Belinda Bencic where the Japanese led by a set only to give it all away.
This time the expectations are sky-high from the reigning Australian Open champion and some people feel that despite her unfamiliarity of playing on clay courts of late, Osaka is still a strong contender for the Madrid Open 2021.