“Just Not That Comfortable On It”: Naomi Osaka Reveals Clay-Court Concerns Before Italian Open 2021

Published 05/09/2021, 5:55 PM EDT
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 24: Naomi Osaka of Japan speaks to media following her Women’s Singles third round defeat to Coco Gauff of the United States of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)


Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is a threat to any player on hard courts. But she is yet to dominate opponents on more natural surfaces, like clay and grass. On the red dirt, the Japanese athlete is yet to win a title. At the recently concluded Madrid Open, Osaka lost to Karolina Muchova in the second round.

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From her experiences on the red turf, it has become evident that playing on clay does not come naturally to Osaka. With her aggressive game style, it becomes difficult to find angles on clay courts to hit winners. 

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
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Naomi Osaka explains her struggles on clay courts

Talking about her clay-court performances so far, Osaka informed that she is yet to adapt herself to the clay courts. 

“I’m just not that comfortable on it still, and I’m not sure if it’s because I need to play longer on it or if I just haven’t grown up on it,” Osaka explained. 

Since she has a long way to go, Osaka is taking small steps to figure out the right game plan for the red dirt. As of now, the Japanese number one player insisted that she is unwilling to change her style of play to suit the red dirt.

Osaka also talked about her discussions with coach Wim Fissette regarding her playing approach on clay. 

I feel like we both established that I’m not going to magically turn into a defensive player, and I’m not magically going to start hitting my balls like three feet above the net,” Osaka said. 

Osaka fixates on being the aggressive baseliner in any surface

The four-time Grand Slam champion has a clear idea of what she doesn’t want to change whenever she plays on clay. Osaka believes that her aggressive game was what made her win four major titles. 

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/Loren Elliott

So of course I’m an aggressive player, and that’s what I do. That’s what helps me win. So definitely wouldn’t drastically change my game at all, no,” Osaka concluded on making changes to her game.

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While Naomi Osaka’s struggles on clay do pose a minor threat to her longevity, she has proved her resilience time and again at big tournaments. With heavy competition on the clay-court swing this year, it will be a mammoth task to achieve instant results for Osaka. 

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Sagar Ashtakoula

221 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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