Fans are calling it, tennis greats are predicting it. Just don’t ask Naomi Osaka if she’s the new Serena Williams.
Osaka is being hailed as the new Queen of tennis after capturing her fourth grand slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday night.
‘OH MY GOD’: Naomi Osaka’s ‘savage’ act in victory speech
The Japanese star dominated Jennifer Brady in a 6-4 6-3 victory to win her second Australian Open title and improve her record in grand slam finals to 4-0.
In doing so she became the first woman since Monica Seles 30 years ago to win her first four grand slam finals, a feat that not even greats like Serena and Venus Williams, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova achieved.
With Serena turning 40 this year and having gone four years without a grand slam title, many are calling Osaka the new face of women’s tennis.
The 23-year-old knocked Serena out of the Australian Open in the semi-finals, a match that some believe will be the American champion’s last at Melbourne Park.
But Osaka gave an emphatic four-word answer when asked about usurping Serena in her post-match press conference.
“A few weeks ago you said as long as she was playing Serena was the face of tennis. Do you think that this win and maybe even the win on Friday has begun to shift that at all?” a reporter asked.
To which Osaka responded: “No. Not at all.”
The four-word response was easily Osaka’s shortest in a 37-minute press conference, with all of her other answers carefully considered and thought out.
Naomi Osaka targeting success on grass and clay
Osaka declared she will not to be weighed down by “pressure and expectation” after her latest triumph sparked talk of her becoming a double-digit major winner.
After her victory on Saturday night, tennis great Mats Wilander said Osaka can win 10 grand slams “minimum”.
“I’m taking it in sections. For right now, I’m trying to go for five,” Osaka said when asked about Wilander’s comment.
“After five I would think about maybe dividing the 10, so maybe seven or eight.”
“I don’t like to take things big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment.
“It’s an honour that he said that. But I don’t want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations.”
Osaka has proven to be irresistible on hard courts after now winning twice at Melbourne Park and Flushing Meadows.
But she’s struggled elsewhere, having never made it past the third round on the French Open’s clay or Wimbledon’s grass courts.
“I feel like I have to get comfortable on those surfaces,” she said.
“I didn’t grow up playing on grass at all.
“I honestly think I’d have better luck on clay, because I think last year I didn’t play bad at all.”
However, when asked where she was most likely to win her first non-hardcourt grand slam, Osaka said: “Hopefully clay because it’s the one that’s sooner.”
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