Osaka - The refreshing air is snuffed out

Naomi Osaka (Supplied)
Naomi Osaka (Supplied)

Melbourne - Naomi Osaka not only breathed new life into this year’s Australian Open tournament, but she also brought a refreshing outlook, delivered in her uniquely teenage way.

After losing 6-1, 6-1 to Victoria Azarenka in her third round clash on Rod Laver Arena, she reflected on her experience in this tournament - as well as some of her goals for the future.

On her impression of Azarenka, Osaka summed it up in her typically teenage manner.

“She’s really good. Really good. I don’t know. She’s like very solid, I feel. She hits like corners very well.”

Osaka broke Azarenka to love in the opening service game of the match and was as surprised as everyone else.

“Oh, I was like, it can’t be this easy. And then she like broke me and I was like, yeah, okay.”

When asked to evaluate her performance Osaka was honest and to the point.

“A bit too defensively probably, and the score is pretty terrible. Oh, God. I don’t know. I feel like I was like 20 feet behind the baseline and she was just like hitting all my balls. I should have tried to step in maybe.”

This honesty was further on display when Osaka detailed some of the lessons she will take away from this loss to Azarenka.

“It’s like I’m learning. Honestly, I’m a bit glad she beat me like this because I have like so much more to learn and I can take this as a good experience.”

As this is an unusual reaction to losing such a big match, Osaka provided more details.

“Well, I mean, I’m glad I lost. I would also be very happy if I won. Like I say that, because if I were just to have beaten her I don’t think I would learn as much. I can learn more from my mistakes than from winning.”

What a refreshing, wise and candid outlook from such a young woman.

Osaka revealed her serving speeds were down from her previous matches due to an abdominal injury she picked up in her last match.

“Oh, well, I strained my ab muscles, so I can’t really like... it hurts pretty bad.”

How did it feel taking this injury into the match?

“Like pathetic. Like I really wanted to serve, but like I couldn’t.”

Every once a while a competitor comes along and catches your eye for all the right reasons. Osaka is one of these cases. She is honest, open, talented, funny, and authentic.

I look forward to seeing the progression of her career in the years to come as well as the joy and the welcome breath of fresh of air she brings along with her.

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