Melbourne - Every so often a new face comes along; one
that is very different in so many ways, who can also play at the highest level in
tennis, similar to a breath of fresh air in a windowless room.
Naomi Osaka appears to be one of these rare cases.
Naomi was born in Osaka, her father is from
Haiti, her mother is Japanese and she currently lives with her family in the US
Naomi behaves like a typical teenager, not
only dressing like one but also in the way she communicates. When referring to
her love of Japanese culture she blurted out “I’m really introverted so I feel
like I fit in there.”
She does spend time in Japan with some of
the top coaches from the Japanese Tennis Association. Osaka is also currently
in the process of learning Japanese.
Unsurprisingly, Japanese fans and the media
have taken an instant liking to her. There have been large numbers of fans
present at all of her matches to date and a very large contingent of Japanese
media in attendance during her press conferences.
A fact not lost on Osaka.
“Yeah, it was actually like there was a lot of Japanese people and they were
actually cheering for me. So I was like really happy. Yeah. Yeah. It’s really
Before Thursday's second round win
against 18th-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, Osaka was ranked 127th in the world and that ranking appears to
be in free-fall, predicted to drop into the 100s.
She was surprised to be
referred to as being very cool and unemotional on the court.
“In my brain I’m
going, oh my God, why, about like 90% of the time.”
In typical teenage style her
next statement was a little contradictory.
”Well, okay, I don’t know. I feel
like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t get excited or anything
After pre-qualifying for the Australian
Open, Osaka is now through to the third round after defeating
Svitolina in straight sets - 6-4, 6-4 - where she faces Victoria Azarenka next.
about her views on the match, more teenage-like behaviour was on
“I actually didn’t know I was going to play her. So I’m kind of excited
right now, though.”
Osaka revealed in her teenage way that she tries not to get
too far ahead of herself when playing in tournaments.
“I never feel pressure
from playing someone that’s supposed to be like better than me, sort of. I’m
just going to go in there happy and hopefully try to pull off an upset.”
there be any chance she may change her expectations for the clash with the 2-time Grand Slam champion?
“I don’t really have any. I
just want to play really good. I know that if I play good, then maybe I can
As if we didn’t need any further
confirmation that Osaka is a typical teenager she admitted to steering well
clear of Facebook during tournaments.
“Yeah, I kind of just want to stay away
while I’m at a tournament, because if I don’t, if someone says something mean,
then I’m just like crying in the corner...”
I have to be honest, I kind of like