“Seems to Have Some Limits”: Journalist Questions Naomi Osaka’s Clay Court Game

Published 04/10/2021, 10:31 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Veteran tennis journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta has raised questions on Naomi Osaka’s clay-court game and her ability to conquer all surfaces.

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In a virtual chat with senior American sports journalist and tennis columnist Steve Flink, Scanagatta raised Osaka’s dodgy clay court track record and her recent defeat to big-hitting Greek star Maria Sakkari at Miami.

Questioning Naomi Osaka all-court creds, journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta says a top player shouldn’t lose the way she did to Maria Sakkari in Miami

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He said the 23-year-old Japanese appears to have some “limits” in her game which is preventing her from conquering all surfaces.

 

“Osaka seems to have some limits. She should go on double digits (career Slams) but when things like this (Miami rout) happen…a top player, even on a bad day, shouldn’t lose 0-6, 4-6 to anyone,” Scanagatta said.

Flink also gave his verdict on the present-day WTA field as compared to previous years.

Barring Serena Williams, who has been a proven performer and a champion across surfaces, the top players in the current lot of women’s stars have underlined their dominance on their preferred surfaces while showing their weaknesses on others.

A perfect illustration would be current World No.2 Naomi Osaka, who reinforced her hard court credentials with back-to-back Grand Slams at the 2020 US Open and this year’s Australian Open.

However, clay remains her obvious Achilles heel and back-to-back third-round in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the French Open and a string of underwhelming performances at other clay court events on Tour bear affirmation of the same.

Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after missing a shot against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka conceded to her unflattering track record on dirt in a recent interaction with the press, saying that she was determined to lift a title on clay this year.

Again, current World Number 2 and two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has nine career Tour titles on clay, but not nearly as much on other surfaces.

Sports writer Steve Flink says Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu can be great rivals in years to come

To a question on whether yesteryear stalwarts like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles represented a decidedly better WTA field with their accomplishments across surfaces, Flink said he will reserve his judgment till he has seen a few more years of Osaka on clay.

He added that if Bianca Andreescu stays fighting fit and Osaka and current women’s World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty raise their level of play on the relatively weaker surfaces then the tennis world could see the beginning of a new rivalry in women’s tennis.

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“If Andreescu can stay healthy, if Ash Barty can keep playing this way and if Naomi Osaka bounces back which I think she will, among that trio we can get some great, great matches rivalries,” Flink said.

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He added that he feels excited at the thought of seeing Osaka and Barty going against each other as well Andreescu.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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