Naomi Osaka: Every tennis kid has pretended to be Rafael Nadal at least once

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Naomi Osaka: Every tennis kid has pretended to be Rafael Nadal at least once

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she doesn't know a tennis kid that hasn't at least once pretended to be like Rafael Nadal. Osaka, a former world No. 1, has been watching videos of Nadal lately as she is giving her best to improve her clay game.

Osaka has won seven titles throughout her career but she is still seeking her first clay title. "[Can you] Imagine? I’ve actually been warming up kind of left-handed but I don’t think that’s a skill that’s going to show itself anytime soon.

It’s just like for technical reasons. If I hit left-handed forehands, it’s easier to hit a backhand if that makes sense," Osaka said, per the WTA website. "I know that every kid growing up playing tennis in the world has pretended to be Nadal at least once."

Osaka aims the Madrid semifinal

Osaka, 24, is set to make her fifth Madrid appearance.

Osaka's best result in Madrid came in 2019, when she reached the quarterfinal before falling short in three sets to Belinda Bencic. Osaka was drawn to meet Anastasia Potapova in her Madrid opener as she aims to kick off her clay season on a positive note.

"I always say I want to have a good time, which is true, even off the court I want to have a good time," Osaka said. "I’m trying to take it one tournament at a time. "Of course winning matches and leading up into the French, I want to get to the semis of either here or Rome, hopefully win.

But I’m going to set a little goal first." In her last tournament played, Osaka reached the Miami final. Even though Osaka was easily beaten by Iga Swiatek in the Miami final, reaching her first final in 14 months was a positive step for her. Now, Osaka aims to start her clay season on a positive note and make a deep Madrid run.