Naomi Osaka explains why she really likes being unseeded in Indian Wells this year

World No. 287 Osaka entered this year's Indian Wells via a wildcard.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Naomi Osaka explains why she really likes being unseeded in Indian Wells this year
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Naomi Osaka says she actually finds being unseeded in Indian Wells a positive thing because she would need to make a Grand Slam-like run to win the title in the desert. 

Since giving birth and returning to tennis, 26-year-old Osaka has been very open about her intention to return to the top of tennis. This week, four-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Osaka is playing her fifth tournament of the year in Indian Wells, which she entered via a main draw wild-card.

Exactly six years ago, Osaka introduced herself to the tennis world when she as an unseeded 20-year-old girl won her first WTA title at the WTA 1000 event in Indian Wells. Shortly after becoming a WTA 1000 champion, Osaka also lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open. 

Osaka, now ranked at No. 287 in the world, received a wildcard for this year's Indian Wells edition.

"When I won Indian Wells (in 2018) I wasn't seeded," Osaka recalled.

"It's better for me to play the seven matches because I want to know what it's like to potentially win a fifth Grand Slam. This is really great practice for me and hopefully I'll get through my first match and my second match."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

Osaka plays qualifier Sara Errani in the Indian Wells first round

In Indian Wells, Osaka has a favorable opener as she is set to meet 100th-ranked qualifier Sara Errani. In their first and lone meeting, Osaka claimed a 6-1 6-3 win in 2016 Miami.

While Osaka is still early in her comeback, she admits she is entering Indian Wells with the belief that she can make a good run. 

"I've had dreams of what I want to achieve and obviously losing in the first round of the Australian Open wasn't in my dreams, but I have to be really realistic and kind to myself," Osaka said.

"When I was in Doha and I got to the quarters, I was really happy. I would have loved to go further but I'm in the top 200 now and I'm actually really excited about that."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

Indian Wells is one of Osaka's favorite tournaments and it will be interesting to see if the Japanese can make another major run in the desert this year.

Naomi Osaka Indian Wells
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