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Osaka goes all in on clay courts ahead of French Open

Naomi Osaka secured her first clay-court victory in two years on Wednesday. While the former world No. 1 is adjusting to the slower surface in preparation for the French Open, she has no intention of abandoning the power game that has earned her four Grand Slam titles.

Osaka, who returned to competition in January following a 15-month maternity break, has achieved significant success with her strong baseline play. However, she has faced challenges on clay courts.

Her initial match of the season on this surface resulted in a first-round defeat to Martina Trevisan in Rouen last week. Nevertheless, Osaka bounced back with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Greet Minnen at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

“I slid a couple of times to my forehand pretty well, so I was excited about that,” Osaka told reporters. “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.

“I want to adapt, and I’m trying to, 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 many more matches on clay. I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

Osaka, who is now ranked 197th in the world, has never made it to a final on clay and has failed to advance beyond the third round at Roland Garros.

“I’d like to win a tournament on clay,” said Osaka, who meets Liudmila Samsonova next in Madrid.

“It would be very ironic but also hilarious if my first tournament win of the comeback would be on clay.”

The French Open begins on May 26.

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