“Body-Shocked”: Naomi Osaka Explains the Physical Challenges Playing at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/08/2021, 12:30 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Loren Elliott


It was a simple affair for Naomi Osaka to begin her search for the fourth Grand Slam title against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She defeated the 29-year-old Russian 6-1, 6-2 in straight sets and gave away just one breakpoint in the match. 

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Naomi is one of the favorites to win the championship. She easily ousted the #39 seed who was once tagged a Russian prodigy. Anastasia held rank #13 in July 2011 at the age of 20 and has played the Grand Slam quarter multiple times. However, her past results did not help against the third seed Japanese. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021, Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates winning her first-round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Kelly Defina

Naomi Osaka and her thought on fitness

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In Round 1, Naomi looked very agile in her movements, showing no signs of physical worries. However, just a few days back, she had surprisingly pulled out from her semifinal game of the Gippsland Trophy. The reports had shown her problems with her shoulder and that she wanted to stay fit for the Slam.

In the on-court interview, she responded to a question about pulling out, saying, “I think physically, I feel like everyone’s sort of they’re body-shocked coming in and playing matches so suddenly after such a long break. But I think we’re all sort of getting used to it, and all-in-all everyone’s just really happy to be here.”

Of course, last year was unlike any, when the world of sports was quiet for over six months. However, Naomi had made a great comeback, winning the US Open 2020 against Victoria Azarenka.

The heavy criticism for pulling out from smaller events

The thing is, every player has some personal ground rules and Naomi Osaka has never been keen on playing a tournament right before a Grand Slam event. Even after pulling out from her semifinal clash against Elise Mertens, the Japanese star had said, “It (soreness) kind of flared up again because I played, like, a lot of matches back-to-back… For me, my main focus is hoping I can rest enough before the Open.”

After this and other WTA stars pulling out from their respective events, a flurry of critics commented against the decision. 

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This was the data shared by a tennis commentator which pointed towards the fact that modern-day players stretch little. Now, this is one debatable topic, but many have criticized the players’ decisions to pull out from events, suggesting it demeans the quality of those WTA events.

What are your thoughts on the same? Do you think the players, especially younger ones, can take these warmup tournaments lightly? We’re waiting to read your important opinion on this.

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Naomi Osaka to Follow Serena Williams’ Schedule After Australian Open 2021

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Sourabh Singh

1262 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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