Former world number one Naomi Osaka has not stepped onto the tennis court in over six months. The Japanese star last played in the Fed “She’s Smart” – Serena Williams Speaks on Bianca Andreescu’s US Open Withdrawal Cup qualifiers in early February. She is now all set to make a comeback. The WTA Tour started recently but Naomi Osaka has not featured in any event yet. She is focused on the Western and Southern Open and the US Open later this month. Both events will be played in New York. After such a lengthy hiatus, Osaka is itching to get back on the court.
The US Open will be very different this year with numerous rules and guidelines and the event happening in a bio-secure bubble. But the 2018 champion Osaka does not believe a lot has changed as far as preparation goes, saying that she and her team are approaching the event and “preparing as if it was any other US Open tournament.”
“I just want to play. It’s been so long and I miss the feeling of working through tough matches and figuring out how to come out on top,” Osaka said in an interview. “It’s a feeling that I’ve been used to but now that I’ve had this break, I appreciate it even more,” Osaka expressed.
The 22-year-old admitted she trained hard, but she and her team had to do things differently. “My training has been consistent and hard, we’ve just had to get creative because gyms and other facilities where I normally train are closed,” the world number 10 added.
Recently, Osaka’s coach Wim Fissette said that expectations will be low for Osaka to play her best tennis right away. Despite that, he said Osaka’s mentality will be that of aiming to win the US Open.
“Naomi is going to go into it with the mentality of wanting to win the tournament. It’s not going to be different. Of course, our expectations shouldn’t be that she’s going to play perfect tennis right away. Expectations will be a bit lower on the level of play maybe in the beginning but obviously the mentality to try to win the tournaments,” Fissette said.
Osaka’s last appearance at a Grand Slam was a loss to teenager Coco Gauff in the Round of 32 at the Australian Open.