Naomi Osaka - Miami Open 2024

Naomi Osaka reveals she ‘feels a lot more confident’ on clay despite Italian Open exit

Naomi Osaka has exited the fourth round of the Italian Open, but appears to be taking the positives after achieving her best result at the tournament since 2019.

Osaka lost to seventh seed Qinwen Zheng, 2-6 4-6, in the Japanese player’s first match against a top 10 player since returning to the tour after giving birth to her first child last year.

Despite the straight sets defeat, Osaka revealed that she was happy with the lessons learned playing Zheng, I’m pretty happy that I was able to play this match because I will learn a lot from it. I’ll learn that the level’s not that different. It’s kind of just more key moments I would say, staying mentally very resilient in myself and my abilities.”

The former world No.1 did not have much pedigree on clay coming into the tournament, and had lost all eight previous meetings to top 20 ranked players.

However, after beating WTA No.20 Marta Kostyuk and No.11 Daria Kasatkina in Rome, Osaka admitted that she is starting to feel more comfortable on the dirt.

“I think I definitely feel a lot more confident leaving than when I came,” explained Osaka. “I hope that I can learn a lot from the match I played today and apply it and do really well in Paris.”

Osaka will now turn her attention to the second major of the year, Roland Garros, where she is yet to surpass the third round in her six previous appearances.

Roland Garros gets underway on Sunday 26th May, where Osaka will look to claim her first victory at the tournament since 2021.

Inside the baseline…

Despite the defeat today, Naomi Osaka is understandably pleased with her Italian Open campaign. The win over Daria Kasatkina was particularly impressive, given her Russian opponent’s pedigree on clay having reached the Roland Garros and Italian Open semi-finals two years ago. It will be intriguing to see how Osaka does at Roland Garros, with the draw particularly relevant given the fact that she is still unseeded and ranked outside the top 100.

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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.