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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Kei Nishikori Confirms Safety Amid Hurricane Ian, Sets Out End of Year Plans

Kei Nishikori is set to return to tennis in November.

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Kei Nishikori (@WSOpen - Twitter)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori has confirmed that he and his family are safe as Hurricane Ian continues to cause destruction in America.

 

Nishikori lives and is based in Florida, where Hurricane Ian is doing most of its destruction at the moment.

So far at least two million people are without power with a handful of people losing their life due to the hurricane.

Some of Nishikori’s fans were concerned about his safety but the former top ten player confirmed that he and his family are safe, “Hi everyone, just a quick note to say my family and I are safe,” Nishikori confirmed on social media.

“Thank you for all the messages. It was a scary day and hope things will be back to normal as soon as possible. My thoughts are with all the people facing the results of the storm. I hope everyone stays safe.”

It’s pleasing to hear Nishikori is safe as the storm continues to cause destruction on many people’s livelihoods in the US.

Speaking of Nishikori, the Japanese star has been fairly muted on the court with him not playing a single event this season.

Injuries have been the story of Nishikori’s career and it looks as if that trend has continued in 2022.

However Nishikori could be expected to make his return to the tour in November on the Challenger tour.

That’s because Nishikori has been confirmed to compete in the Calgary and Drummondville challenger events.

The two events take place between the 6th and the 20th of November with Nishikori looking to gain some match time ahead of next year’s Australian Open.

Tournament directors Alain Calle and Danny Da Costa had this to say on Nishikori’s participation, “We’re thrilled to have Kei at our tournaments,” they jointly said in a press release.

“He’s been one of the most prolific players on the Tour since the start of his career, and even though he’s coming back from a major injury, he remains a very talented player. We’re looking forward to seeing him play again in Canada, and there’s no doubt our fans will be, too.”

The events will be Nishikori’s first since Indian Wells in 2021 where he lost to Dan Evans in the second round.

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Novak Djokovic Praises ‘Passionate’ Tel-Aviv Crowd Ahead Of Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic is into the quarter-finals in Tel-Aviv and will play Vasek Pospisil on Friday.

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Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic spoke about the crowd in Tel-Aviv ahead of his last eight showdown with Vasek Pospisil.

 

The Wimbledon champion progressed to the quarter-finals in Tel-Aviv with a dominant display over Pablo Andujar.

Djokovic dropped only three games as he returned to imperious form as he looks to boost his ranking over the coming weeks.

Speaking after the match Djokovic spoke about the ‘passionate’ crowd in Tel-Aviv and how it boosted his performance, “Fantastic atmosphere here tonight, thank you very much,” Djokovic said in his on-court atmosphere.

“I like the court, it’s very intimate and it’s very loud. The crowd here is very passionate about the sport, about tennis and I’m really, really happy to be here and to perform here in front of you, so thank you for your support.”

Djokovic’s last appearance in Tel-Aviv came as a teenager in 2006 when he played a Davis Cup tie.

Now 16 years later, Djokovic is relishing the occasion playing in Israel again as he looks to make up significant ground on the world’s top ranked players.

Djokovic will now play good friend Vasek Pospisil in the last eight with the Serb leading the head-to-head 5-0.

Here are the other quarter-finals that will take place on Friday in Tel-Aviv:

Arthur Rinderknech v Roman Safiullin

Constant Lestienne v Maxime Cressy

Liam Broady v Marin Cilic

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Iga Swiatek Annoyed By Scheduling Dilemma Ahead Of Season Finale

Iga Swiatek has admitted it’s unlikely that she will play the Billie Jean King Cup Finals after a scheduling dilemma.

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(@thenet_m - Twitter)

World number one Iga Swiatek admits she is annoyed by facing a scheduling dilemma ahead of the end of the season.

 

Swiatek has dominated the 2022 season having won two Grand Slam titles and five other titles this season.

This means she has qualified for the WTA Finals which will take place on the 31st of October in Texas.

However Swiatek is now becoming the victim of her own success as she now faces a dilemma over whether to represent Poland at the Billie Jean King Finals.

The BJK Cup Finals, take place the week after in Glasgow where Poland will face the Czech Republic and the USA in their Group.

Speaking to Polish media Swiatek admitted she is unsure whether she will compete in Scotland and criticised the WTA for their lack of organization over the events, “I am dissatisfied, although I know that arranging everything is complicated,” Swiatek was quoted by Give Me Sport Women as saying.

Certainly, the fact that the WTA and ITF federations in a sense did not cooperate to facilitate our task is irritating to me. I will definitely take steps to let them know about my dissatisfaction.

“I don’t understand the scheduling. I’m not gonna lie that I’m happy about the fact that if I go deep in [the] Finals, I will have to not only play tired but also jetlagged the next day. So I can’t confirm whether I’ll represent Poland or not. I’m sorry.”

Swiatek’s father, Tomasz, backed up his daughter’s criticism and wishes for more communication between the WTA and players in the future, “It’s an extremely unfortunate deal,” he said.

“And yet we have a very difficult group for that in the BJK Cup. The dates of both events are missed. There is a clash between the ITF (organisers of the BJK Cup) and the WTA (organisers of the WTA Finals). Instead of taking care of the development of women’s tennis, they cannot communicate.”

So far both Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have qualified for the WTA Finals with Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula expected to join them.

Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina and Simona hold the other four spots with just weeks left of the season.

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