After the good things she showed on her return to the court at the Brisbane Internatonial, Naomi Osaka is ready to face her first post-maternity Slam. The Japanese tennis player missed the entire 2023 season due to the sweet wait of her daughter Shai, and she is preparing to return to the top of the WTA rankings, undermining the dominance of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina.
In an interview with Tennis Majors, the 4-time slam champion revealed her ambitious goals for the future. The 26-year-old Japanese’s priorities have obviously changed. At the center of her thoughts now is her daughter Shai, born in July 2023.
After 15 long months of absence from the Tour, the former world number one talked about her balance between her private and sporting life. “It was an adjustment to change my main priority from myself to my daughter, but I think she helped me a lot growing up.
I try to keep her routine as constant as possible, so that she doesn’t notice my absence too much when I’m traveling or training,” Osaka explained. The Japanese tennis player then spoke about her new collaboration with the coach Wim Fissette.
“Wim is the best coach I have ever worked with. We know each other very well and there is a strong level of trust between us. We found our rhythm very quickly. We have had some great memories together and are looking forward to making more of them.
many more,” commented the two-time Australian Open champion.
Finally, Osaka said she was very confident about the possibility of returning to winning a Slam title.
“I don’t want to put pressure on myself, but I think I can win a Slam this year. The season is long and I have increased my calendar with more tournaments to have more matches. I think I will be in a great place for the summer on hard courts,” she explained.
What can the 2024 Australian Open tell us about Naomi Osaka?
What should we expect from Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open 2024? It won’t be easy for her to win the Melbourne Slam. Being inactive for a year and giving birth to her first daughter have brought her to Australia in good physical condition, but there are rivals who physically seem more physically ready than her.
Naomi will return to her highest level, but perhaps starting from mid-season. However, it should be underlined that the Japanese, despite her young age, is already an expert, having won the Australian Open twice. Will she give us some surprises? After beating the German Tamara Korpatsch in the first round, the Japanese then surrendered in the next round against Karolina Pliskova in a match that lasted over two hours.
The former WTA No.1 said at the press conference: “I knew that Karolina would play very well, every time the match always ends in three sets. The week was shorter than expected, but in the end I think it was a great match and I really enjoyed it.
At the end of the match I took a look at the statistics and on break points I could have done better, but we both played very well and I hope she thinks so too.” The Japanese tennis player, if she wants to return to the top, will certainly have to improve her break point statistics. “I experience it differently.
Of course it saddens me, but it’s a different sadness, like: ah, I would have liked to do better, I spent so much time away from her and I want it to be worth it. But I also feel like her arrival has pumped me up so much to do well.
I still think I did well in this match, and she hurts a little less because I know I really gave everything I had. I’ve learned to get to know myself again, and in this process I think I’m a person who puts a lot of heart into it.
When I play at my best I put my soul into every point. And it was nice to play and rediscover this feeling again. Even though today there is a lot of disappointment, I know that if I continue to train and do things the right way I will eventually get to where I want to be,” she explained.
Being mother made her acquire a different awareness and maturity. A different vision of tennis and the nuances that she didn’t have before: “Today I enjoy it more and I understand better that there are many things that I cannot control.
Maybe that ball was in, I could have caught it. But today I am aware that I am facing the best players in the world and we both had the opportunity to win. And then I know I trained so hard after giving birth that now I want to enjoy these moments.
I looked at Serena, Sharapova and the others and told myself that a tennis player’s career doesn’t last that long, so I should enjoy it while I can.”