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Naomi Osaka on Slam objectives, ‘delusion’ assertion, difficult Iga Swiatek & prime stars



© Getty Photographs Sport – Darrian Traynor

Naomi Osaka underlines nothing has modified in her Grand Slam aspirations because the four-time Grand Slam champion stands by her assertion that she hopes to win no less than eight extra Majors earlier than strolling away from professional tennis. 

Throughout her being pregnant final yr, Osaka informed a Japanese journalist that she could be aiming to win no less than eight extra Grand Slams and likewise return to the world No. 1 spot. After enjoying two comeback tournaments in Australia in January, Osaka is ready for her third match again at this week’s Abu Dhabi Open. 

Forward of her Abu Dhabi debut, Osaka spoke with Reem Abulleil of The Nationwide and revealed that not doing nicely in Australia – the place she misplaced within the Brisbane Worldwide round-of-16 earlier than dropping within the Australian Open first-round – motivated her to enroll in Abu Dhabi and attempt to bounce again within the United Arab Emirates. Throughout their dialog, Abulleil requested Osaka about her Grand Slam assertion from final yr. 

“I positively nonetheless really feel that approach,” Osaka informed The Nationwide. “Australia gave me somewhat little bit of self-doubt, simply because I want I might have performed extra matches and I all the time do very well in Australia. So it was a little bit of a harsh actuality.

“However I nonetheless assume my degree is bettering on daily basis and I feel that I could be higher, and I hope that I might be higher. I’m all the time the kind of individual that may somewhat set actually excessive objectives and possibly I’ll do solely 25 p.c of that however the 25 p.c remains to be actually superb.

“I don’t assume that I’d have come again and be like, ‘Oh my aim is to get to the quarter-final of a slam’, which remains to be actually good however that’s not why I’m spending time away from Shai.”

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Photographs Sport – Julian Finney

 

Osaka on difficult Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina & Coco Gauff

Whereas Osaka was sidelined, Swiatek, Sabalenka, Rybakina, and Gauff separated themselves from the remainder of the competitors. 

Swiatek, 22, has 4 Grand Slams and he or she is the top-ranked participant on this planet. Sabalenka, presently ranked at No. 2, gained her first two Grand Slam titles within the final two Australian Open editions. On the opposite aspect, Rybakina gained 2022 Wimbledon and gained two WTA 1000 titles final yr, whereas Gauff gained her first Grand Slam and WTA 1000 titles in 2023. 

Just some years in the past, Osaka was extensively thought of one of many prime gamers within the sport and holding the world No. 1 spot. However then, Osaka began battling private points and dropping motivation and pleasure for the sport. 

After being out for 16 months, 26-year-old Osaka returned to tennis initially of this season and her motivation and pleasure for tennis is again. When requested if she sees herself difficult these 4 gamers, Osaka admitted that she sees herself there and hopes to affix their elite membership by the tip of 2024. 

“I’m at a bizarre level proper now on this comeback. I, clearly, have a lot respect for them and every thing that they’ve completed. However I don’t actually see myself as a challenger, which is a bizarre factor,” Osaka mentioned. 

“It’s actually daring to say however I do know what I’m able to, and I do know individuals are going to in all probability drag me for saying this, however I don’t assume it’s a stretch for me to say that I see myself there. And I hope that I can get there this yr, hopefully in direction of the tail-end of the yr. But when not, I’m okay with being affected person, I’ve all the time been a affected person individual, so I’ll get there finally.”

Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek
Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek© Getty Photographs Sport – Michael Reaves

 

Osaka on her ‘delusion’ that wins her tournaments

In simply her second match in 16 months, Osaka was enjoying on the Australian Open. Though many thought that Osaka being thought of a contender for the Australian Open was one thing very unrealistic, the Japanese felt very upset after dropping within the first spherical to Caroline Garcia. 

When addressing her frustration in her post-match press convention, Osaka made an fascinating remark, saying: “So I would not say this comeback is how I assumed as a result of I am delusional sufficient to assume I might have gained the match. I feel my delusion is what permits me to win the tournaments.”

When requested by Abulleil how she feels now about her “delusion” assertion, Osaka mentioned she “likes my delusions.”

“I really feel like in some capability, everybody who has achieved one thing loopy has been referred to as loopy alongside the best way. For me, additionally simply being a extra inventive individual, you must see issues otherwise and you must dream large to attain these goals. I form of like my delusions, they’re cool,” Osaka mentioned. 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Photographs Sport – Cameron Spencer

 

In Abu Dhabi, Osaka faces 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins within the first spherical. If Osaka beats Collins, she’s going to play subsequent towards top-seeded Rybakina.

It stays to be seen if Osaka could make a run for the Abu Dhabi title this week and win her first title because the 2022 Australian Open.

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