MADRID ( Associated Press) — Former No. 1 Naomi Osaka enters a clay-court season aiming not to be too hard on herself.
Osaka made the final in Miami last month and will play as a wild card entry when the Madrid Open begins on Thursday.
“I’m trying to accept my mistakes compared to previous years, so I’m not so hard on myself,” she said on Wednesday. “If I make a mistake or if I don’t move the ball fast enough – because I think on clay you have to walk a lot really – but I tell myself not to get mad if I do “
Osaka withdrew from the French Open last year and took a break from competition before speaking to the media, saying she was “experiencing long bouts of depression” and experienced “huge waves of anxiety”. . The four-time Grand Slam champion has spoken openly about working on her mental health since winning the 2018 US Open over Serena Williams. She left last year’s US Open in tears and was again brought to tears by a comment from a spectator at Indian Wells earlier this year.
“I’m still a student so I should try to keep learning,” she said before her debut in Madrid.
Osaka said she hopes to learn from some of the clay-court experts playing in Madrid, including Rafael Nadal and red-hot Carlos Alcaraz.
“Honestly. I really want to see good clay-court players practicing because I feel like I’m the type of person who learns really fast if I watch it closely, and honestly it Everything really sucks are good professional tennis players and don’t watch them, ”said the 24-year-old Japanese. “I wanted to see Alcaraz, so it would be nice to see everyone practice.”
Osaka said he “stole one of the things” that Nadal had done and was practicing it, without elaborating.
“It will either be really good or really bad. There is no in between,” she said. “But I think as I have been doing, it is going very well.”
Osaka took two weeks off after playing in Miami and said he had “changed a few things” in his game to prepare for the clay season.
“I think you guys will be able to tell when I will play. I don’t want to spoil the surprise,” she said. “I would say I changed a few things to make myself more suited to clay.”
Osaka said he was aiming to reach the semi-finals in Madrid or Rome.
“I’m trying to take it one tournament at a time,” she said. “Of course winning the match and going forward in the French, I want to get to the semi-finals here or Rome, hopefully will win. But I’m going to set a small target first.”
Osaka’s first match in Madrid will be against the qualifiers. If she wins, her next opponent will be either French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Spaniard Sara Soribes Tormo, who defeated Osaka on clay in the 2020 Billie Jean Cup.
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