Naomi Osaka Is A Star Of Women’s Tennis, But Don’t Burden Her With Expectation - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Is A Star Of Women’s Tennis, But Don’t Burden Her With Expectation

The sudden surge in interest surrounding the US Open champion is inevitable, but not necessarily good.

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At the WTA Finals, coach Piotr Wozniacki said with a smile ‘Hello Japan’ en route to his press conference. The joke was in reference to the army of Japanese reporters at the venue covering their new superstar – Naomi Osaka.

Osaka’s popularity in the world of sport has soared since her shock win at the US Open. Where she stunned Serena Williams in straight sets to become the first ever Japanese grand slam champion in the Open Era. A surge in endorsements has now positioned Osaka as one of the most sort after female athletes in the world. Her contract with Adidas will expire at the end of the year and sources are reporting that a bidding war is ongoing among companies to sign her up.

“I’m playing tournament after tournament, so I don’t really have time to think about my life changing or anything.” Osaka told reporters earlier this week.
“I’m just more thinking about my next match and my next tournament. I feel like I need the year to end to maybe process more.”

Along with her rapid rise comes the inevitable compliments. The latest being from tennis legend Billie Jean King. Somebody who won 12 grand slam titles and was instrumental in the creation of the WTA Tour during the 1970s. Speaking about the world No.4 on Wednesday, King said Osaka has the ability to conquer women’s tennis in a fashion similar to other legends of the sport – Williams, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

“First of all, she hits a heavy ball. She can hit anything. If she really wants it, the sky’s the limit. Beyond the sky. To the moon and back or the world,” King proclaimed.
“She’s an amazing player already. What is she, 20? She’s exceptional. I think Japan should be very proud of her. I know America is very proud of her. We are. She’s both. I think that’s great.”

It is not the first time a notable figure has predicted a bright future for Osaka. Roger Federer once described her as a ‘champion who doesn’t shy away from and big stage’ and former player Kimiko Date has tipped her to become a ‘future No.1.’ All of these comments are undoubtedly a confidence boost for the US Open winner, but is there also a negative side to them?

Osaka’s personality has contributed to her popularity in the sport. During press conferences, she is shy and reserved, but also at the same time herself. Highlighted by her speech during this year’s final in Indian Wells, where she defeated Daria Kasatkina.

Loss is a positive thing

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Amid the Osaka frenzy, there is also cause for concern. A rapid rise to fame can be overwhelming for players on the tour. Angelique Kerber claimed two grand slam titles during 2016, but dropped outside the world’s top 20 the following year. This is not to say Osaka will follow suit, but there are sometimes worrying signs.

“I’m a perfectionist. I expect a lot from myself. I feel like when other people expect a lot from me, then it sort of doubles.” Osaka said following her loss to Kerber at the WTA Finals on Wednesday. “I internalize a lot of things, and then it just explodes and then I start talking to myself on the court.
“Regarding stress, I don’t know. I feel like whenever I want to win badly, then it starts becoming emotional, and I can’t really control too much, like when it starts going a bit sideways.”

There has been many examples of players coming through at a young age before succumbing to pressure. At the start of the year everybody was talking about Marta Kostyuk, a Ukrainian teenager who reached the third round of the Australian Open at the age of 15. At the time Kostyuk admitted that she was confident of winning every time on the court, but soon learned that life on the tour isn’t plain sailing.

“In a few months I felt how easy it is to get from ecstatic to almost completely empty. She wrote on Instagram.

Unlike Kostyuk, Osaka is much more developed on the tour both mentally and physically. Although this doesn’t hide that face that she is could go through a similar experience. Especially when there are so many high profile figures are predicting her to be the next star of tennis.

Two matches into the WTA Finals, Osaka remains winless in the tournament. Losing to Sloane Stephens earlier in the week, as well as Kerber. Although it is still possible that she could qualify for the semi-finals depending on her upcoming clash against Kiki Bertens.

“I just think here (in Singapore) for some reason I can’t get the timing of the ball on the court, on the groundstrokes or the serves.” She explained.
“So it’s a bit strange feeling, like, playing against the top players and then not knowing what you’re going to do on the next ball. I’s been very interesting.”

It is without a doubt that Osaka is one of the most promising players in the sport with a very bright future. Yet sometimes when she plays, it looks like she wants it too much. It is almost as if she feels that she needs to perform at a extremely high level to justify her being a grand slam champion. This is why the focus on Osaka needs to be eased. She remains on course to rise to the top of the women’s game, but will not achieve her potential if she rushes into it. It is time to ease the hype surrounding Osaka and let her develop her career as a player in her own time.

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Tommy Paul Downs Lorenzo Musetti Wins Maiden Grass Court Title At Queen’s Club

Tommy Paul is the new American number one!

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Tommy Paul has won his maiden grass court title at Queen’s Club after defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1 7-6(8).

The fifth seed was too good for the Italian who never really got going as Paul claimed his first title at ATP 500 level.

It was Paul’s third ATP title of his career and moves to world number 12 after an impressive week.

Heading into the final, Paul had beaten Jack Draper and Sebastian Korda and the American continued his red-hot form in the opening set.

Incredible movement on the grass as Paul played efficient counter-attacking tennis as he frustrated Musetti early on.

The American secured the early break for a 3-0 lead as the world number 13 dictated with power and touch.

Looking for a response, Musetti aimed to dictate play on the backhand and the Italian’s serve was firing in the next game as he secured his only hold of the match.

However, Paul was too consistent and solid as the American broke again and would soon win the opening set 6-1.

In the second set, Musetti started more positively as he was more proactive and aggressive as he looked to control his power more.

Paul managed to outlast Musetti’s early power to keep moving the Italian about and creating angles to hit winners into.

After a controlled start, Musetti produced a reckless seventh game as erratic unforced errors saw Paul break for a 4-3 lead.

The American was calm and collected for the majority of the match but when serving for the match Paul faltered under pressure.

Too many missed first serves saw Musetti with an opportunity to break back and the Italian didn’t need a second invitation as a crisp backhand return winner sealed the break back to level the set at 5-5.

An inspired Musetti applied pressure on Paul with some phenomenal hitting from the baseline as he secured consistent winners.

The American held his nerve to force a second set tiebreak as the American looked to overcome some jitters.

It looked like Musetti was going to cruise to the tiebreak but the Italian squandered a 4-1 lead in what was a highly entertaining tiebreak.

In the end Paul would win the tiebreak 10-8 and secure his first ATP 500 title as well as becoming the new American number one.

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Jannik Sinner Wins Maiden Grass-Court Title In Halle

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Jannik Sinner - Parigi 2024 (foto X @ATPTour_ES)

Jannik Sinner has reached another milestone in his blossoming career after claiming his first title on grass at the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle. 

The world No.1 ousted fifth seed and doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8), 7-6,(2), in a tightly contested encounter. Sinner was sternly tested by the big-hitting Pole who knocked French Open finalist Alexander Zverev out of the tournament on Saturday. Nevertheless, he managed to come out on top to become only the eighth player in PIF ATP ranking history to claim a trophy in his first tournament as world No.1.

“This means a lot,” Sinner told TennisTV. “It was a tough match against Hubi. I knew that I had to serve really well. You play only a couple of really important points throughout the whole set. I tried to produce in the best possible way in the important moments. 
“I’m very happy about this tournament because it’s my first time winning (a title) on a grass court. It’s a good feeling.”

Proceedings got underway with a 53-minuite opening set which saw no breaks of serves during the first 12 games played. However, each player had one opportunity to do so during the early stages. In the tiebreak, Sinner continued to be troubled by Hurkacz after failing to maintain a 5-2 lead. Then at 6-5, he was unable to convert his first set point due to an ace from his opponent. He missed a second opportunity to do so before prevailing on his third by hitting a shot deep to the baseline that his rival returned into the net. Making Sinner the first player to take a set off Hurkacz this week. 

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with both players standing strong behind their serve. Hurkacz was unable to find a way to break but he did win over the crowd after hitting a fantastic over-the-shoulder passing shot without looking to win a point. 

Meanwhile, Sinner continued to weather the storm as he closed in on victory. The second tiebreaker saw him capitalised on back-to-back unforced errors from his rival en route to a 5-1 lead. Two points later he earned his first match point with the help of another costly mistake from across the court before closing the match out with ease.

Sinner’s latest victory is only the second time he has beaten a top 10 player on the grass with his first triumph being against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon two years ago. He is also the second player to win Halle whilst ranked No.1 in the world after Roger Federer. 

Heading into Wimbledon, the 22-year-old has won four ATP trophies so far this season on three different surfaces. He has now won 38 out of his last 41 matches played. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Sinner said of the next Grand Slam. “Last year I made the semis and played some good tennis. So let’s see what’s coming this year. 
“For sure I’m more confident on this surface. Obviously, the grass here (in Halle) might be a bit different to Wimbledon but I have a week to prepare so hopefully it is going to be a good tournament.”

Sinner is the 17th active male player to win a tour-level title on all three surfaces. 

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(VIDEO) Jannik Sinner And Lorenzo Musetti Create Italian Grass Court History

Italian tennis keeps getting stronger as Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti make more history on grass.

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Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti created Italian grass court history by becoming the first Italians to reach ATP grass court finals in the same week.

The world number one, Jannik Sinner, overcame Zhizhen Zhang in straight sets to reach the final in Halle.

It’s Sinner’s best ever performance at Halle and will now face doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz for the title on Sunday.

Meanwhile at Queen’s Club Lorenzo Musetti reached his second ATP 500 final with victory over Jordan Thompson in three sets.

It’s Musetti’s third ATP final of his career and his first ATP 500 final since 2022 where he beat Carlos Alcaraz in the Hamburg final.

Ubitennis founder Ublado Scanagatta reflects on the historic achievements by Sinner and Musetti and the impact it could have on the whole pyramid of Italian tennis.

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