Naomi Osaka - Miami Open 2022 and Serena Williams - US Open 2022

Naomi Osaka credits Serena Williams as reason why she’s ‘enjoying herself more’

Naomi Osaka has mentioned both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova when speaking about why she is enjoying herself on court more, despite being knocked out of the Brisbane International earlier today.

Osaka was beaten by Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6(4)-7 4-6, in a match that contained a total of 87 winners, including 30 aces.

Although admitting she was disappointed, Osaka appeared to be taking the positives from the match, “I think for me even stepping on the court is a personal win because a couple of weeks ago I was even doubting if I could play with everyone.”

The 26-year-old continued, “So I guess these two matches that I’ve had kind of prove to me that I am doing okay, and the year is just going to get better for me.

“Even though it’s super disappointing today, I know that if I keep training and if I keep putting in the work, then I’ll eventually get to where I want to be.”

Osaka did have her opportunities in the match, but converted only two of her 12 break points, compared to Pliskova’s 100% conversion rate.

However, Osaka felt that she couldn’t be too hard on herself,  “I’m not really sure if I can be too hard on myself, if that makes sense. I knew going into the match, we had stats on where she serves specifically, but then she changed it up on me.

“I knew that she was going to play really well, and whenever I play her, it’s always three sets. The week is definitely shorter than I wanted it to be, but overall I think it was a great match, and I had a lot of fun.”

Since Naomi Osaka has been away from the WTA Tour on maternity leave, Serena Williams has retired from the sport and the Japanese star mentioned her alongside Maria Sharapova as part of the reason she is enjoying playing again.

“I think I’m enjoying myself a lot more, and I also realise there’s a lot of things that aren’t in my control. I feel more aware that I’m playing the best players in the world. Both of us have an opportunity to win,” explained the former No.1.

“I also just think I’ve trained so hard after giving birth that I need to enjoy these moments, and I also think in a way watching Sharapova, Serena retiring, I know that the tennis lifespan isn’t that long, so I should enjoy it while I can.”

Osaka’s exit from the WTA 500 tournament in Brisbane means that attention now turns towards the Australian Open, which begins on Sunday 14th January.

Inside the baseline…

It has to be seen as a positive week for Naomi Osaka, who won her first match since giving birth and then pushed defending champion Karolina Pliskova right to the last point. Osaka could perhaps have needed more match practice heading into the first Grand Slam of 2024, but she doesn’t appear to be showing much signs of rust and will be a huge threat as an unseeded name in the draw.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.