Will Naomi Osaka’s crisis have an end on the hard-courts? The Japanese player is going through a difficult time, which has lasted since after her victory at the Australian Open. The American hard court and the indoor season after that could be the cure for this negative moment, which has now lasted for six months.
Her collapse was emotional and psychological, rather than physical and technical. Osaka played a great tournament in Melbourne, but then the blackout forced her to live as a background-actress for six months, and then lose the throne of women’s tennis.
Without” considering her splitting with sascha bajin>, at today still a mystery, as said even by Martina Navratilova. The management of fame and pressure, after the successes achieved in a few months, have temporarily blocked the growth of an athlete who is only 21-years-old and has a lot of chances to improve again.
The satisfactions after Melbourne were very few; semi-final in Stuttgart, quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome. What’s happening in Osaka’s tennis is nothing new on the WTA Tour. Similar things have happened to many tennis players after Serena Williams announced her pregnancy, after the Australian Open 2017.
Others her colleagues have suffered and are suffering from similar crises. Paradoxically, the Japanese achieved better results, after Melbourne, on clay-courts, rather than at Indian Wells, Miami and during the grass-swing, on playing surfaces on which we all thought she was the real favorite.
Especially at Wimbledon. Hier debacle was sensational. It can only be an accident; the come-back on hard-courts may restore confidence, motivation and pace. But the work will have to focus a lot on the mental aspect of her game, which was labile in the last tournaments she played.
Thinking of seeing her competitive again from the Rogers Cup is not a utopia. She got the quarterfinals in Canada, losing again Serena Williams. She has all the skills to be able to dominate women’s tennis, but the body-double she showed in recent weeks will have to come back to the dressing rooms. We need the best version of Naomi Osaka for this goal.