Press "Enter" to skip to content

Naomi Osaka revamps return game, credits Djokovic for inspiration

Naomi Osaka revealed she drew inspiration from Novak Djokovic’s strategic approach, making adjustments to her return game at the Qatar Open.

This shift in tactics proved effective, as she secured consecutive victories for the first time in nearly two years.

The 26-year-old Japanese player had faced challenges in finding her form since returning to the circuit last month after a 15-month break, during which she became a mother.

Her early exits in Brisbane, the Australian Open and Abu Dhabi were followed by a significant turnaround in Doha.

However, after beating 15th seed Caroline Garcia, who defeated her at Melbourne Park, in the Doha first round, she showed glimpses of her best form in a 6-3, 7-6(9) win over Petra Martic on Tuesday to reach the last 16.

“A technical tweak may have helped,” she said. “I did change my return – I don’t want to say ‘style’ but I guess ‘form.’ I don’t know how to describe it. Like, before I was taking one step, one step, and then jumping in, but now I’m just jumping in with both feet, because apparently Djokovic does that, so why not copy the best returner in the world?”

Osaka, who last won two straight matches at the tour level in 2022 at the Miami Open, said that a conversation with coach Wim Fissette sparked the adjustments to her game.

“It was frustrating knowing that my serve is one of the best serves, dare I say, in the world,” Osaka added. “But I just really wanted to work on the things I know should be a lot better and the return was one of them. We were talking about it a lot in the off-season and leaving Melbourne, definitely needed to improve it.”

Osaka takes on Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko later on Wednesday.

More from SportsMore posts in Sports »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *