It appears that the slower clay surfaces of the season leading to the French Open are suited to Naomi Osaka’s power game. Going into the quarter final round in Madrid Naomi has weathered a lot of challenges so far in the clay court season and notwithstanding her withdrawal from Stuttgart after reaching the semi final round because of an injury to her abdominal muscle she has played well on the surface. A title in Madrid would further cement her no. 1 ranking in women tennis as she heads to The French Open. As I have predicted before I believe Naomi can win four in a row in terms of Grand Slams, the French then Wimbledon as she carries her Japanese Haitian heritage proudly.
In Stuttgart Naomi had a date in the semi final round with Anett Kontaveit who has been playing well even though she lost in the final to Kvitova. It would have been a great match and a good gauge of Naomi’s progress on clay. But after a great come from behind win over Donna Vekic when she was trailing 1-5 in the third set and played incredibly to win the set and the match, she had to withdraw from the semi final showdown with Kontaveit. Naomi is healthy and in great shape now going into the quarter final round in Madrid. There she will face Belinda Bencic for a tough matchup of hard hitters. On clay I think Naomi has the extra time to place her shots with power. The slower surface allows her to really hit her forehand and draw her opponents off balance. In her last match she breezed through Sasnovich in straight sets serving well and finishing the match early. As she goes into the quarter final round the road will get tougher and she will have to face tougher opponents on the way to the title.
After Madrid the road to Roland Garros will wind through Rome for the Italian open and Naomi Osaka will certainly get a taste of the Roman circus like atmosphere that is a part of the Foro. Then the women will travel to Paris for the French Open, a tournament that is one of the four Grand Slam showdowns that feature the best players in the world. So far Naomi has won two of those tournaments in a row, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. If she wins the French Open in Paris and Wimbledon in England she will have done what few have accomplished, four in a row. Naomi has said that she is too young to pressure herself into thinking about breaking Serena Williams’ record and surpassing it, a great attitude that is a credit to her upbringing. Many times those of us of Haitian descent tend to be boastful and talk a good game before playing it, so in Naomi’s case it is refreshing that she wants to be herself and set her own goals. Just staying healthy and winning all her matches would seem a sensible approach.