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Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka Seeks to Adapt on Clay Without Abandoning Power Game

Tokyo, April 25, 2024, The Europe Today: Naomi Osaka secured her first clay-court victory in two years on Wednesday, signaling her efforts to adjust to the slower surface ahead of the French Open, while reaffirming her commitment to her trademark power-based style that has yielded four Grand Slam titles.

Returning to competition in January after a 15-month maternity break, Osaka has encountered challenges on clay, a surface less suited to her aggressive baseline game. Her clay-court season started with an opening-round loss to Martina Trevisan in Rouen last week, but Osaka bounced back with a convincing 6-4, 6-1 win over Greet Minnen at the Madrid Open.

Reflecting on her performance, Osaka shared with reporters, “I slid a couple of times to my forehand pretty well, so I was excited about that. She was hitting really good drop shots, but I think I got to a couple quite well. Movement-wise I’m feeling a lot more comfortable.”

While acknowledging the need to adapt to clay, Osaka emphasized her intention to retain the powerful elements of her game that have propelled her to success. “There’s a basis to my game and I want to stick to that, but also respect the court,” she explained. “It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m watching a lot more matches on clay. I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

Despite her current world ranking of 197th, Osaka remains determined to excel on clay, a surface where she has yet to reach a final or advance beyond the third round at Roland Garros.

“I’d like to win a tournament on clay,” Osaka expressed optimistically. “It would be very ironic but also hilarious if my first tournament win of the comeback would be on clay.”

Osaka’s next match at the Madrid Open will be against Liudmila Samsonova as she continues her preparations for the French Open, set to begin on May 26.