‘Naomi Osaka wants world number one spot back,’ says coach
Naomi Osaka is fully focused on returning to tennis and regaining the world number one spot, a member of her team has revealed.
Osaka is currently taking time away from the sport after giving birth to her first child, although she also appeared from the outside to be losing a little love of tennis – and especially the media spotlight that comes with it – before she stepped away from the court.
However, according to her performance coach Florian Zitzelsberger, her mindset is now completely reengaged with tennis and she is working her way back with a fresh motivation and lofty ambitions.
“Where she is today is what makes working with her so inspiring,” Florian Zitzelsberger said. “She wants to get back to world No. 1, she wants to win Grand Slams.
“She gives me the impression of someone who is totally balanced and happy with herself. She’s very much grounded, mature and embracing the beauty of motherhood.”
Plan to get Naomi Osaka back on top
Naomi Osaka clearly has a lot of work to do given her last match was in September 2022, but Florian Zitzelsberger believes he has laid out a roadmap to not only get her back but also ensure she is better than ever when she does.
one step at a time 🕚🕚🕚 pic.twitter.com/LJOgG4RMSJ
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) October 25, 2023
A lot of that will, of course, be focused on physical conditioning, the kind of work that all WTA players who have given birth must go through.
However, he also believes that there is a considerable amount of technical work to do as well to bring Osaka’s tennis in line with the modern trends of the women’s game.
“To reach the highest performance, we start by returning stability within the kinetic chain, which is typically lost somewhat during pregnancy and birth,” he explained.
“The kinetic chain runs through the core, stomach and belly, and for a long time, her chain wasn’t playing tennis; it was growing a baby!” He explains.
“Once that base is attained, we work on specific movement skills, whether that’s acceleration or deceleration, change of direction. The main objective is always strengthening to make the body strong, in addition to improving conditioning and mobility.
On the required changes to her game, Zitzelsberger added: “She’s obviously a great offense player, but I think things have changed in the game over the last half-decade where defence is getting more and more important.
“We’re working to make Naomi into a player who can transition more effectively from defence to offense. That way, even if she’s getting pushed into a defensive position, she can still strike an offensive shot.”
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