Wim Fissette, the coach of Japanese star Naomi Osaka, says that the issue of racial injustice is very close to the heart of the former US Open champion and her idea of wearing a different mask for each match is giving her extra motivation to go far at this tournament.
Fissette spoke to the media in New York on Monday and revealed how the issue has helped motivate the Japanese player.
"It's definitely helping her and giving her even more energy. I mean, she always has the motivation.
Of course she wants to go really far in this Grand Slam, and she wants to -- obviously she wants to win it. But this is like an extra motivation, as you know. It's a very important topic for her."
Wim Fissette says he is very proud of Naomi Osaka
The 40 year old Fissette has earlier worked with several top WTA players, including Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta and says Osaka's performances on court as well as her raising her voice off the court are a good combination for being a role model.
"She did unbelievable big thing during the Cincinnati tournament, as you know. We support her there, because we know, like, how important it is. Again, it's very important to have big personalities like Naomi to make a change hopefully one day.
I think it's a great thing that she does. For sure with wearing the masks, she wants to be role model, but also she knows that it has to go together with the role model on court. So it's a good combination. Role model off court; also great attitude on court.
That goes together. So far it's working really well. So I'm very proud of her." One of the recent changes that Osaka has made in her team is hiring physical trainer Yutaka Nakamura, who has earlier worked with Maria Sharapova.
Fissette says Nakamura's contribution to Osaka's game is very important and it is vital that the whole team works in the same direction. "For me to work on Naomi's game, it's really important to work very close to fitness coach, so we are really going in the same direction.
I really feel that since the start that we start working together, it was about 12 weeks ago, that we have been working really well. Naomi has been very committed. Outside of his work, he also brings a lot of discipline. He's Japanese, so very structured, very well-disciplined, and Naomi enjoys the work.
So I'm very pleased with that." Noami Osaka is through to the quarter-finals of the US Open where she will take on American Shelby Rogers. (Image Credit - US Open)