Naomi Osaka’s sky is the limit

All of that has happened in the last 16 months. Her life was a whirlwind that was almost unimaginable. Still, I was relieved in Osaka last Sunday when I rode with my friends.

Following the US Open last September, the reset was astounding when four big winners decided they needed to shift their focus from tennis for a period of time.

Naomi Osaka will light the torch at the opening ceremony in

“I think we needed to reorganize and rediscover our motivation and passion for tennis,” she said.

This is a thorny issue for rivals, including Australia’s world’s number one Ash Bertie, who will be competing in the fourth round at Melbourne Park next week.

When Osaka is rhythming on and off the court, she is as formidable as any other player stepping into the tennis court.

There are many reasons to celebrate this conference, which will be an incredible final, especially the quality of tennis.

There is also symmetry. Bertie swept the world after a sabbatical from sports. Osaka was on the road to greatness when she decided she needed a break. Her enjoyment of cleaning the line with a scorching swipe from the baseline wasn’t as great as it used to be.

She felt exhausted. As the world’s No. 1 once said, “I think it’s public knowledge that I struggled for various reasons in the second half of 2021.”

While I was absent from tennis, Osaka lived a normal life.

She visited a friend in San Francisco not far from Stanford. There, at the age of 16, she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, showing her immense potential.

“I think it was an experience I couldn’t have in my life just because I couldn’t play tennis, travel a lot, or stay overnight,” she said.

“When I see Naomi on the coat … she [looks like] Such a person who does no harm like a fly. But she is an incredible murderer in court, “he said.

Osaka coach Wim Fisset

As Fisset explained, the sacrifice needed to accomplish it professionally can prove to be as tiring as robbing three sets of matches in the heat of Australia.

“Obviously, I can’t feel what Naomi feels. The only thing is she’s my player and I support her 100 percent,” Fissett said.

“When you go to court, I think you have to go to court … because it’s your passion. The reason you started playing is because you love sports.

“”[But if] It becomes like a routine and you may not really appreciate it anymore … you leave and after a while it will come back.

“Most of these girls have been training, training, training, and playing matches, matches, matches since they were very young. They had no time to do anything else.

“Sometimes, at a certain age, you may want to move away from it and look at it from a different perspective, and after a while you regain your love and appreciation for the sport you love.

“I think it’s good and wise. It’s an example for those who feel they can’t or don’t accept it.”

After defeating Alizé Cornet in Melbourne this year, Osaka found it boring to leave tennis when it was opening the court at Rod Laver Arena.

Perhaps closer to the truth is that she is interested away from tennis, including business and fashion projects, but is burning with ambition.

Another legend that illuminates the Olympic torch, Muhammad Ali, will “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Fissette uses a similar analogy to describe the Japanese icon.

“When I see Naomi on the coat … she [looks like] Such a person who does no harm like a fly. But she is an incredible murderer in court, “he said.

“And I always feel it’s a very interesting combination. She’s probably the kindest girl you’ll meet. But on the other hand, she’s a very, very ambitious, champion who just wants to win. It seems like.

“That is, for coaches, it’s the perfect combination, but yeah, it’s just funny.”

Osaka said he was worried that he had hurt them last year when he called to re-form the band in November.


“Honestly, it was a bit unfair to them because a lot of things I wasn’t talking to them happened, and I didn’t want to be, so I’m really grateful for sticking to me. More and more with my team last year, “she said.

Team Osaka gathered in Los Angeles. Some honest conversations took place.

Yutaka Nakamura, her fitness coach, said she regained ties while enjoying a relaxing So Cal. [Southern California] Lifestyle around Beverly Hills.

“We started talking a little more honestly. [that] The team really cares about her. Then she said she really cares about us, “he said.

“I think we started to feel just the atmosphere from each other, as you know.” OK. This is a real team. “

That was the request for Osaka in 2021. No wonder she felt tired by September.

Her protagonist in the Tokyo Olympics is historic, and the Australian Open dual champion became the first tennis player to play this honor.

But far more important is the cultural influence of Osaka, where his father is from Haiti and his mother is Japanese, and he was chosen because of the prejudice of interracial people across the country.

It was Nakamura, a Japanese-American heritage born in Tokyo, who was watching in awe.

“Japan used to be very old-fashioned. Japan used to be very similar, everyone looks the same, thinks the same, speaks the same,” he said.

“But now it’s more diversified. Japan is starting to look and think more globally. Obviously Naomi is a big part of that and I’m very proud of her.

“For me, when I saw her raising this Japanese flag … it was very valuable to be on the podium. My heart, my feelings, everything was shining.”

Washington Wizards basketball player Rui Hachimura continued the unified theme aimed at promoting racial harmony and raised the Japanese flag at the closing ceremony.

Osaka defeated the Queen of Women’s Tennis Serena Williams in New York in 2018 to win her first Grand Slam.

But nothing could match the honor she felt when she lit the Olympic torch three years later.

“The Olympics were a great experience. Lighting the torch was definitely a highlight of my career,” she said.

“Obviously tennis didn’t work as well as I expected, but life is more than a result.

“The fact that bisexual women set the torch on fire and men of two races raised the Hinomaru reflects a major step forward that I am very proud of.”

I vividly remember Osaka for another moment that happened when I left Tokyo last August.

Waiting to return to the United States in the departure lounge, the athlete approached her and thanked her for prioritizing mental health over performance on the court.

Osaka had a great two weeks at Melbourne Park in 2021. But when she announced she wouldn’t attend the press conference, there was a turmoil in front of Roland Garros.

The columnist commented in liters. A social media war broke out. The press conference was brought to justice. Tennis managers are thrilled. And Osaka was even more disappointed.

The feelings of the Dual US Open Champion were misunderstood. Her first wording was a little clumsy, but it never meant to be strong.

Her withdrawal from the press was only temporary. But the tears she shed publicly when she was anxious and crippled remain a stain on the sport.

Naomi Osaka in the first match at the French Open last year. She was later fined for refusing to attend the press conference.

Naomi Osaka in the first match at the French Open last year. She was later fined for refusing to attend the press

Osaka has been suffering from depression for a long time and is having a hard time dealing with it in a bitter statement when it withdrew from the French Open after winning the opening round at the French Open.

She then skipped Wimbledon.

When it comes to stakes, nothing is more important than mental health. Her words resonated.

So, the willingness to discuss one’s worries from other athletes proved to be a “really humble and moving” moment at the end of last summer’s time in Tokyo.

“At first I didn’t know what the impact would be,” she said.

“The real impact was when I returned from Tokyo.

“There were so many athletes from different countries and sports at the airport who told me how grateful they were and how I helped them.”

Nakamura, who played baseball when he was young, trained Maria Sharapova after working with some of the best athletes in the world at IMG Academy in Florida.

He said the Japanese tend to keep their feelings on themselves. And he couldn’t imagine that Sharapova would have considered displaying her feelings more broadly when competing.

But he feels that the world of sports, and more broadly society, is well adapted to consider the mental health of athletes.

“With my generation, and Sharapova’s thinking, you don’t just show your weaknesses or your hurt,” he said.

“But in this generation, that’s fine. For Naomi and Simone Biles … and for some other athletes, it’s okay. I think it’s a way to inspire yourself and others. increase.

“I learned a lot from Naomi-san. As Naomi said, it doesn’t have to be okay. To be honest, this is the kind of mental awareness I didn’t really notice.”

Osaka continues to educate itself on mental issues.Last week she saw a great Netflix documentary Limit point About former American professional Mardy Fish.

Since rising to the top, Osaka has proved to be an amazing player on hardcourts.

Her four majors appeared on the surface, split neatly between Melbourne and New York.

Nakamura works with the champion and, given her explosiveness and power, likens the former world’s best to training as the chief mechanic of Ferrari’s racing team.

“I’m training Naomi like an F1 car. [They are] It’s a very high performance car and needs to be in good condition, “he said.

Fisset has coached Grand Slam champions such as Kim Clijsters, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber over the last 13 seasons.

“Not everyone has a big forehand like Naomi,” but they all boast similarities and differences in court.

He said Osaka would stand up on that occasion. She does her best for match points, not training courts. This proved the case against Garbinem Guruza, who won the fourth round in the middle of winning the fourth Grand Slam title, with Osaka overcoming two match points 3-5 last February.

“The moment is more important, she usually pulls out the best tennis, and that’s what the champion does. I think she’s good at playing big points,” he said.

Melbourne Park is similar to Osaka, so it’s also a city named after its name.

Being able to walk around hassle-free is part of the charm that has allowed her to thrive here. World No. 13 showed the best fight when it won three wins ahead of the title defense in last week’s opening tournament.


Fisset describes a champion with fiery ambitions. But nothing beats the lessons learned from experience.

Whatever the outcome of the next two weeks, Osaka wants to keep it simple.

“My priority in 2022 is to really enjoy and enjoy tennis,” she said.

Naomi Osaka’s sky is the limit

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