It seems that as soon as Naomi Osaka steps on to a hard court something special happens. 21 times in a row in just over a year the Japanese girl has come away with wins.
On Sunday in Melbourne, she brushed aside American Jennifer Brady in straight sets to win her second Australian Open. Osaka, has now won four Grand Slam titles and has never lost a major final. The likes of Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had all finished runners up at least once before they reached four titles.
An impressive CV already from the Japanese girl
The Japanese girl’s CV is might impressive for a 23-year-old. Winning the US Open in 2018 and 2020 plus her win in the Australian Open back in 2019 makes her already the player to beat at the moment.
Women’s tennis has been crying out for somebody to take over the mantle of the great Serena Williams. In order for her to match and better Williams, Osaka has to overcome two big hurdles. She must win majors on clay and grass to be right up there with the all-time greats of women’s tennis.
Osaka is already the highest profile hard court specialist of all time. Only Williams, Graf and Monica Seles have won more Grand Slams on hard court than her.
Excels on the hard courts, but struggles on both clay and grass
However, Osaka has never passed the third round at either Wimbledon or the French Open. She has openly said she feels less comfortable on grass. She is still unsure of her footing and gets troubled by the inconsistent bounces on the lush green surface.
Osaka isn’t the only player who struggles on grass. Many have the same worry which they struggle to come to terms with. In 2019 Osaka fell at the first hurdle at Wimbledon by losing to Yulia Putitseva of Kazakhstan.
Having a top coach in Fissette really helps
The biggest plus on the continuing rise of Osaka must be down to her excellent coach Wim Fissette. The former Belgium player has also worked with Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber.
Most recently, Fissette worked with Britain’s Number 1 Johanna Konta. From the start of 2017 until October of that year Fissette had helped Konta to reach the quarter finals of the Australian Open and the semi’s of Wimbledon. During that successful stage of Konta’s career she reached a career high ranking of 4 in the world.
Rather surprisingly Fissette and Konta mutually decided to split following a string of bad results. Ever since the split, Konta hasn’t looked the same player and the likes of Osaka have prospered.
High regard for her coaching team
Osaka holds her coaching team in high regard. Back in 2020 at the Australian Open where she suffered a third round exit to Coco Gauff she told her team everything was fine. Clearly it wasn’t and she is now able to share with them her fears.
Last summer during a six-week training block, she invited Fissette and the rest of the team to stay at her house in Los Angeles. A wonderful team bonding exercise that is beginning to reap big rewards for the girl from Japan.