Naomi Osaka is a strong force on hard and one of her goals for this season is improving her clay court game. On Friday, Osaka kicked off her clay season with a dominant 6-3 6-1 victory over Anastasia Potapova. Osaka was absolutely brilliant in her first clay match of the year and after her victory, she opened on what she has been trying to learn from Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek.
Nadal and Swiatek are dominant forces on clay and Osaka analyzed how those two run around the backhand. "It's like you know what I did at the match point? Like stuff like that. I believe watching like Nadal, Iga does it too, which I think is really cool, but just like knowing when to kind of a hit forehand instead of a backhand and knowing when to run around.
I think a lot of really good clay court players do that, so I'm trying to learn how to do that, as well," Osaka explained.
One of the things Osaka is trying to learn from Nadal - and also Swiatek - is running around the backhand.
"I believe watching like Nadal, Iga does it too, which I think is really cool, but just like knowing when to kind of hit a fh instead of a bh & knowing when to run around." pic.twitter.com/kfiqot7vGm — Musab (@Musab_Abid) April 29, 2022
Osaka wants to enjoy herself on the court and win matches
Potapova claimed the first break of the match in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead but Osaka responded with back-to-back breaks to win four games in a row and win the first set.
After winning the first set, Osaka broke Potapova three times to complete a straight-set win. "I'm honestly trying to be more positive with myself," Osaka said afterward. "This year I came a week early to train on red clay, so just trying to give myself more chances to do better.
... To be able to do it in two sets, for me, it's a really good starting block. "I think today for me it was really fun, just being able to be back on the clay and kind of not taking those moments for granted."