Coach shares how Naomi Osaka is taking that immediate success is not happening yet

Osaka has major goals for her post-pregnancy comeback but so far she hasn't won any titles.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Coach shares how Naomi Osaka is taking that immediate success is not happening yet
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Coach Wim Fissette reveals Naomi Osaka wants immediate success but also adds that the former world No. 1 is doing her best to keep it "realistic" and understand that it may take more time before she returns to doing great things.

So far in her post-pregnancy, Osaka has had some solid results and wins but she hasn't yet won any titles or made any semifinals or finals. Since Day 1 of her return, the 26-year-old Japanese has been highlighting that returning to winning Grand Slams and being one of the best in the game is her ultimate goal. While Osaka's comeback hasn't gone bad so far, the Japanese is still just 9-8 in 2024 and not where she wants to be. 

For this year, four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka said she would put big emphasis on improving on clay and grass. So far, Osaka has appeared in two clay tournaments and she is 1-2. After starting her clay season with a surprise loss to Martina Trevisan, Osaka defeated Greetje Minnen in her Madrid opener but then suffered a heartbreaking 2-6 6-4 5-7 loss to Liudmilsa Samsonova in the second round.

Through her opening eight tournaments of the year, reaching the quarterfinal at a WTA 1000 tournament in Doha remains Osaka's best result in 2024. 

"We just had our conversation already (after the loss against Samsonova in Madrid) and it’s always hard. I feel the disappointment, but I also know she’s quite rational as well, she understands. She’s hoping for success immediately but she’s also realistic that it can take longer," Osaka's coach Fissette told Tennis Sweet Spot.

"As a coach, you always try to find the right words, and it’s probably the hardest part of my job also because seeing a player so disappointed after her loss there are no right words… You just have to find how to start the conversation, that’s the key, and to move on as soon as possible. You hear stories about players not talking for two days but we don’t want that. We want to go and continue our process as soon as possible."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Coach Fissette says Osaka wants to become better than ever

Before her pregnancy and a pause from the game, Osaka was struggling with her motivation and passion for tennis. But being out of tennis for the entire season helped Osaka in some other ways as the four-time Grand Slam champion returned with a rediscovered fire for the game. 

Now not only that Osaka wants to return to her old level, she also wants to become a more complete player in all areas and surfaces and become the best version of herself. 

Addressing that, Wissette says Osaka being so determined is also making his job easier. It should be noted that Fissette has a long history with Osaka as they also worked for three years in the past before splitting in 2022 and reuniting at the start of this season. 

"After the match, it’s always difficult, but soon after she knows: she knows where she came from and that there are so many things that are so much better. And so far she’s been unbelievably committed to what she wants to do. She wants to become the best version of herself, she’s 100% investing energy and time, and she’s watching for every detail in her job so I’m very happy with that," Fissette said.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka © Getty Images Sport - Kenta Harada
 

Fissette explains why clay is a challenging surface for Osaka

Even when Osaka was winning Grand Slams and being the top-ranked player in the world, she wasn't enjoying much success on clay. So far in her career, Osaka has managed to make just one clay semifinal as she made the last four in Stuttgart in 2019 before giving Anett Kontaveit a walkover. When it comes to the French Open, Osaka has played there six times so far and has never made it past the third round. 

Evidently, clay is not Osaka's best surface and coach Fissette now explains why that's the case.

"It’s just experience and time spent on the clay. It is different, you need time to make some tactical adjustments. Of course, the movement is different, the bounce is different as it’s a higher contact. But if you just think about the last five years, how many hours has she spent on clay and how many matches has she played on clay? Therefore what I saw was very promising," Fissette explained.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Meanwhile, Osaka is resuming action on clay at this week's Rome Open. 

After the Rome main draw was released on Monday, Osaka learned that she would be starting her campaign by meeting world No. 45 Clara Burel in the first round. On paper, Burel is definitely not the worst of the matchups that Osaka could have received and the Japanese will certainly like her chances there.

In 2019, Osaka was a Rome quarterfinalist and that remains her best result at the tournament.

Naomi Osaka
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