Naomi Osaka - Australian Open 2024

Naomi Osaka reveals she came back ‘to win more Slams’ after Indian Wells defeat

Naomi Osaka is trying to not be ‘too hard’ on herself, following the former No.1’s straight sets defeat to Elise Mertens at Indian Wells.

Osaka was beaten by the WTA No.28, 5-7 4-6, in the third round last night and spoke about how her perspective has changed since returning from maternity leave.

“I wanted to win more Slams. That’s why I came back,” revealed Osaka. “But I think I determine success right now just by the effort that I put in, and I feel like today I don’t think I played well at all, but I tried every point.”

She continued, “I think, like, before I was pregnant, there were a couple of matches that I didn’t try as hard as I tried today, and I feel like I can walk off the court knowing that, although I’m sad about the loss, I know that I tried every possible way to get back in the match. I guess that’s how I determine success right now.”

Osaka managed to fight from a break down in both sets, but ultimately the 25 unforced errors allowed her Belgian opponent to prevail.

The former world No.1 suggested that her fighting spirit was something that she was proud of, “I’m just trying not to be too hard on myself right now, but I feel like in some ways I improved a lot from Doha.

“I think I fought a lot harder, or I tried to fight a lot harder and find solutions to problems that were in front of me. Clearly it didn’t work out too well, so I hope that the more matches I play, the more I can find solutions.”

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion, which she believes has made it difficult to manage her expectations after spending 15 months away from the tour until earlier this year.

“I feel like it is completely different, like, because you know that you’ve done it, so you’re desperately trying to do it again,” explained the 26-year-old. “I think when I was younger and I haven’t achieved, I guess, anything, it was always, like, a wonder or a possibility, and I wasn’t too hard on myself, because I was always just reaching the third round in Slams anyways.

“It is quite different from now, because I feel like I should be able to get to that level. Obviously – well, not obviously, but I feel like I’ve done it once before, so I should be able to do it again.”

Osaka will rise around 50 places to back inside the world’s top 230 after reaching the third round of Indian Wells, and will now head to Miami where she was a finalist in 2022.

Inside the baseline…

Overall it is another encouraging week for Naomi Osaka, who picked up impressive straight sets wins over Sara Errani and Liudmila Samsonova at Indian Wells. Elise Mertens is a very consistent ball striker, so if you are slightly off your top game then it is quite probable that you will come out on the wrong side of the result. However, Osaka appears to have a good perspective on the disappointing outcome. Hopefully she can continue to build on this at the Miami Open next week and work her way back inside the top 200.

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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.