Short on match practice, Osaka says she’s pretty happy going into US Open


World No. 3 and defending champion, Naomi Osaka of Japan, has said that despite not having played many matches in the last few months, she was feeling “pretty happy” going into the US Open, beginning on Monday.

Osaka played in her first hardcourt event in the United States at Cincinnati in mid-August after a difficult summer when she withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon due to mental health issues. The 23-year-old Japanese player did compete at the Tokyo Olympics but lost in straight sets to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round.

“Honestly, I know I haven’t played that many matches. I know that I haven’t even gotten to a quarterfinal [in a while]. Actually I feel pretty happy with how I’m playing. I thought I played two really tough matches in Cincinnati. The girl that I lost to (Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann), she played really well. I didn’t play her before, so I had no information on her.

“It’s one of those things where you do have to have a match rhythm. Of course, I played literally no tournaments before that match,” said Osaka during a press session ahead of the US Open on Sunday.

On whether she had cleared her mind and was ready to focus on the tennis on court, Osaka said that she was confident with where she was right now and that she would take it one match at a time.

“It would be really cool if I could draw that line and be able to be like a robot Superman that could go on the court, focus just on tennis. But, no, I’m the type that kind of focuses on everything at one time. That’s why everything is sort of muddled to me. I feel pretty confident with where I am right now. Of course I’m not declaring that I’ll do amazing here. For me, I’m the one-match-at-a-time like person. Hopefully it will work out in the end,” added Osaka.

Praising world No.1 Ashleigh Barty for the success she has enjoyed post her pandemic-induced break of a year, Osaka said, “I think that she’s had an amazing year. It’s really cool to see someone play so consistently. I would say the key, I feel like you would have to ask her because I’ve never had a year like her.

“I would say she seems really determined and really focused. I know that she hasn’t gone home since Australia, so that’s a lot of traveling for her. I don’t think I’m the type of person that could do that. It’s so good for the sport, I would say.”