Web Stories Thursday, May 23

Naomi Osaka says she is “embracing” clay more and taking “inspiration” from the best after posting her first win on the surface in two years.

It was Osaka’s first clay win since the first round of the 2022 Madrid Open.

She has not had much success on clay in the past, failing to make it past the third round of the French Open in six appearances and not reaching a WTA final on the surface.

“There’s definitely beauty to it, and I’m taking a lot of inspiration from people who do well on it,” she said.

“I’m not expecting to be like Iga [Swiatek], but I just want to do the best with what I have.”

Osaka faced just one break point on her way to beating Minnen in the first round.

She will next face No. 15 seed Liudmila Samsonova for the second time this year, having beaten her at Indian Wells in March.

Osaka says clay remains a “work in progress” for her but she is feeling “a lot more comfortable” with her movement on the surface.

“Overall, just really happy,” she said after the win over Minnen.

“I had a game plan with Wim [Fisette, coach] and I was able to execute it. I do have a tendency to get down on myself, especially when I feel I should’ve converted [break points] or done better, so I was definitely telling myself to keep my head up and hopefully I’d have more opportunities.

“I slid a couple of times to my forehand pretty well, so I was excited about that. And she was hitting really good drop shots, but I think I got to a couple quite well. Movement-wise I’m feeling a lot more comfortable.

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“I want to adapt and I’m trying to adapt, but there are things that work for me and have gotten me to where I am, so I don’t want to start slicing and dicing. There’s a basis to my game and I want to stick to that, but also respect the court. It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m watching a lot more matches on clay, I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

Osaka’s best result this season was making the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open.

She also made the last 32 of Indian Wells and the Miami Open before losing her clay opener at the Rouen WTA 250 event.

“I would like to win a tournament on clay,” she said. “It would be very ironic but also hilarious if my first tournament [win of the comeback] would be on clay.”

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