Former world No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova considers Naomi Osaka as one of the top favorites for the Australian Open title as she says the Japanese knows how to win Melbourne. Osaka, ranked at No. 14 in the world, captured her first Australian Open title in 2019 and also won the event last year.
“The way she strikes the ball, she's the cleanest, I guess the hardest-hitting player out there, and it's really hard to stop her," Hantuchova said about Osaka in the latest episode of Inside-in, as quoted on Sportskeeda.
"She knows what it takes to win in Melbourne and like you said, she is refreshed and I'm sure she has so much appreciation for the game."
Hantuchova sees the hunger in the eyes of Osaka
Osaka pulled out of the French Open after her first round win, skipped Wimbledon and was beaten in the Us Open third round.
Osaka is now determined to make a strong run at Melbourne Park. “She's hungry. So, for me, she is one of the favorites if not the biggest one," Hantuchova said. "She looks great and she is timing the ball incredibly well."
Osaka plays rising American star Amanda Anisimova in the Australian Open third round. “I've never hit with her or practiced with her, so it will definitely be really new going into the match. It's really nice to see her around, because I heard of her story and on what happened to her, so it's really good, like she's pushing through it,” Osaka said of Anisimova.
Anisimova is very excited about facing Osaka. “I like her game a lot. I like watching her play. I think our personalities are a little bit similar in terms of composure and trying to be the quiet players on tour,” Anisimova said. "I'm also a pretty aggressive player, so I just want to see how our games will match up."