“Haven’t Touched Clay in Two Years”: Naomi Osaka Reveals the Challenges Ahead of Mutua Madrid Open 2021

Published 04/27/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a backhand 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


World No.2 Naomi Osaka is currently practicing on green clay for the upcoming clay-court season. After having a poor record on clay so far in her career, she is training hard to turn the tables around. The Japanese star will begin as the second seed at the upcoming Mutua Madrid Open 2021.

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In a recent interview, Naomi Osaka revealed the challenges of playing on clay. She mentioned that she hasn’t played a single match on clay for about two years and it’ll thus be challenging for her.

“At the end of the day, I haven’t played a clay tournament in two years. Haven’t touched clay in two years either,” said Osaka in the interview.

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Mar 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a backhand against Elise Mertens of Belgium (not pictured) in the fourth round in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka reflected that she hasn’t even touched clay in two years. The 4-time Grand Slam winner skipped the French Open last year due to a back injury. Interestingly, she hasn’t even won a single Masters 1000 tournament on clay in her career so far.

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“It’s really hard”- Naomi Osaka

Osaka believes that she can only win if she’ll put herself under some pressure. She feels that she performs much better on the court when she tells herself that she has to win. However, she stated that she finds it really hard to get that feeling out of her.

Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a forehand 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

“I do better when I don’t stress myself out and tell myself that I have to win… but it’s really hard to fight that feeling when you really want something,” added the World No.2 player.

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Osaka has got a tough path at the Mutua Madrid Open 2021. She’ll most likely face Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, Simona Halep in the semis, and most probably Ashleigh Barty in the finals.

It’ll not be easy for Osaka, but she knows how to win the matches under pressure. Fans certainly have huge expectations from her and want her to perform well in the clay-court season. Will Osaka be able to lift her maiden French Open title this year?

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Anshul Singh

775 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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