‘I’m not chasing number one anymore,’ says Australian Open front runner
Three time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka admitted she is no longer chasing the number one spot ahead of the Australian Open after it added extra pressure.
The Japanese star insisted on Saturday that her top priority is greater consistency rather than focusing on returning to the top as she eyes a second Australian Open title.
Despite coming into the Australian Open as the third seed, Osaka is widely regarded as the tournament favourite having gone 14 matches unbeaten, including the US Open final, before withdrawing from a warm-up event this week with a shoulder injury.
After beating Petra Kvitova at Melbourne Park to lift the Australian Open title in 2019, Osaka became the first Asian player to reach the summit, though insisted that becoming World No 1 added extra pressure and felt underwhelming.
“I think nobody really acknowledged me as number one,” said the Japanese star.
“It just made me think people don’t really see me as number one. I just kept trying to prove myself. I felt like that wasn’t really a good mindset to have.
“If it comes to the point where I’m able to be number one again, I’ll embrace it, but I’m not really chasing it like that anymore.”
One player who has produced the consistency that the Japanese star aspires to have is Romanian star and World No 2 Simona Halep, who has now been ranked in the top 10 for 346 consecutive weeks.
Osaka said of Halep’s streak: “I think that’s incredible. “I feel like I want to have that sort of consistency.
“My career, it’s been kind of up and down a lot, and people don’t really know when I’m going to do well in a tournament or when I’m not.
“I think my ultimate goal is just to at least reach the quarter-finals or better at every tournament I play, and hopefully win most of them.”
Osaka faces a tough test in her first round at the Australian Open as she faces giant-killer Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who eliminated last year’s second seed Karolina Pliskova in the third round.
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