Naomi Osaka’s Rise Down To ‘Hard Work,’ Explains Mentor Sascha Bajin - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka’s Rise Down To ‘Hard Work,’ Explains Mentor Sascha Bajin

Sasha Bajin reflects on his work with the reigning US Open champion.

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Coach Sascha Bajin believes Naomi Osaka has the upper hand in her upcoming match against Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open on Saturday.

 

Osaka will take on the Czech for the chance to win her second consecutive grand slam title at the age of 21. Also up for grabs will be the world No.1 ranking. Should she claim the top spot, Osaka would be the first Japanese player – man or woman – in the history of the sport to do so. An impressive achievement for a player who had a ranking of 72 a year ago.

“I kind of want her to approach the match like she approached (Karolina) Pliskova. She’s also a big server. Just kind of like the opposite, because she’s a lefty.” Bajin commented of the tactics he advises Osaka to use.
“Both of them are very dangerous off the first two, three shots, but I believe once the rally keeps going, Naomi with her current state of mind and physique has the upper hand.”

Since her US Open breakthrough, where she defeated Serena Williams in the final, Osaka has managed to remain consistent on the tour. She has now reached the semi-finals or better at five out of her past six tournaments. Showing no signs of succumbing to the pressure that other young players have done in the past. She is the first active player on the WTA Tour (after Venus Williams in 2000) to win her maiden grand slam title and then reach the final of the next.

“She really wants it. People say they want it, but she really wants it.” Bajin stated. “We had an unbelievable great season last year, but after having just two weeks’ break, she came back and showed up and really worked her butt off.”
 “She’s a hard worker, and she wants to be, and that’s why she’s here.”

Bajin has established himself as a formidable force behind the scenes on the WTA Tour. In the past, he has been the hitting partner for players such as Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. Then in 2017 he joined forces with Osaka in what has been blossoming partnership. Last year he was the recipient of the inaugural WTA Coach of the Year.

During their time together, Bajin’s main focus has been on telling the Japanese player that power isn’t everything in the game. At the Australian Open, Osaka has hit 50 aces, which is more than any other player in the women’s draw. Her fastest serve was 191 KM/H. The joint-fifth fastest in the tournament alongside Serena Williams.

“From the very beginning, she was a big hitter. I didn’t have to teach her how to hit the ball or anything.” Said Bajin. “Maybe it was a little bit more like telling her there are other things out there than just hitting very hard. We worked on her angles. We worked on just a little bit more of everything. Slicing. Wanting her to come in a little bit more. Just a little bit of everything.”

“This is one of the biggest assets in her game, I believe. If a power hitter like that can move like someone who is defensive, the opponent’s going to have to play really well.”
He added.

Should Osaka win the Australian Open, she would become the youngest world No.1 since Caroline Wozniacki back in 2010.

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Angelique Kerber wins all-German clash against Andrea Petkovic in Stuttgart

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Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber beat her compatriot Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4 to reach the quarter final at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

 

Kerber, who won two consecutive editions of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016, earned a break in the first game, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Petkovic earned two break point chances at 2-1, but Kerber fended them off to hold serve for 2-2.

Kerber won four consecutive games from 2-2 to close out the first set 6-2 with a service winner.

Kerber earned her first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2, but Petkovic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3.

Kerber got the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Petkovic. Both players went on serve in the next three games. Kerber served out the win on her fourth match point to reach the fifth quarter final of her career in Stuttgart. Kerber beat Petkovic for the seventh time in their nine head-to-head matches.

In the quarter final Kerber will face Kiki Bertens, who rallied from one set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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Naomi Osaka Retains Number One Ranking With Victory Over Hsieh

Naomi Osaka maintained her grip on the World No.1 ranking with a serene straight-sets victory over Su-Wei Hsieh in Stuttgart.

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Naomi Osaka (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Naomi Osaka ensured she will remain the World No.1 next week with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

The Japanese player, who went to the top of the rankings for the first time when she won the Australian Open in January, can now no longer be overhauled by Petra Kvitova at this event.

Osaka achieved victory over her opponent from Chinese Taipei with a minimum of fuss. She did this by serving well throughout and digging in to survive one tricky service game early in the opening set.

Consequently, the World No.1 only needed to break Hsieh twice in the match. In the first set, she broke in the fifth game. In the second set, she broke to love in the first game.

Osaka nearly earned another break in game three, but the World No.24 hung on to keep the set reasonably competitive.

Although she did not require another break, the Japanese player achieved one anyway in the ninth game of the second set to polish off a routine win in just 86 minutes.

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself for the first few tournaments (after becoming World No.1) and that was the hardest thing to deal with,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “But now I’m really having fun and enjoying myself a lot.”

The Japanese player will take on Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals. The Croatian dispatched Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-5.

Bertens ousts Bencic to reach last eight

Kiki Bertens (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Kiki Bertens fought back from a set down to beat Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 and book her place in the quarter-finals.

The Dutchwoman, 27, is one of the best clay court players in the world. She has won five titles on the surface and reached two other finals. However, she has never been past the first round in Stuttgart before this week.

In her encounter with Bencic, Bertens’ serve made all the difference. She hit 20 aces and won an extraordinary 88% of points behind her first serve.

This meant the Swiss player was never able to put any sustained pressure on the World No.7’s serve. She only earned three break points in the whole match.

To her credit, Bencic seized the first two of these to gain the only break of the opening set and then go a break up immediately in the second set.

However, when her level dropped in the second game, Bertens broke straight back. And from that moment on, the Dutchwoman barely allowed the World No.20 to get a racket on any of her first serves.

Consequently, Bertens needed just two breaks of serve from that point on to win the match. She got the first in game eight of the second set and the second in game five of the decider. The World No.7 will now play either Angelique Kerber or Andrea Petkovic in the last eight.

Elsewhere in Stuttgart, Anastasija Sevastova overcame Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Petra Kvitova and Anett Kontaveit beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-2.

 

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Anett Kontaveit Takes Down Garcia In Stuttgart

Anett Kontaveit started her clay court campaign in style with a straight-sets win over Caroline Garcia at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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Anett Kontaveit (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Anett Kontaveit continued her excellent recent form with a 6-4 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

 

It was the ideal start to the clay court season for the Estonian, 23, who produced some of the best tennis of her career in her recent run to the semi-final of the Miami Open.

Despite her form, Kontaveit is under pressure this week in Germany. She has a lot of ranking points to defend after reaching the semi-final last year.

“The beginning was a little bit shaky for me but I love playing here and I really got into it,” the Estonian reflected in her on-court interview after the match.

Kontaveit’s early nerves handed Garcia four break points in her first three service games. However, the Frenchwoman failed to seize any of those opportunities.

She paid dearly for those failures. The Estonian earned a break in the seventh game and then won two service games to love to take the first set 6-4.

Garcia responded well to her disappointment initially. She held to love at the beginning of the second set. She then earned two break points in the next game.

But once again she failed to capitalise on those chances. And once again she was punished, as Kontaveit won her next three service games with ease.

This enabled the Estonian to put massive pressure on the Frenchwoman’s serve. That pressure led to consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games which got Kontaveit over the line by a 6-3 margin in the second set. She will now play either Julia Goerges or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

Bencic sets up exciting Bertens clash

Belinda Bencic (@PorscheTennis on Twitter)

Belinda Bencic beat Mandy Minella 6-2 6-4 to book a intriguing second-round meeting with Kiki Bertens.

The Swiss, 22, has lost both of her previous matches against the Dutchwoman, so this encounter will be a good test of how much she has improved since those defeats.

Bencic is enjoying a superb year so far. She won a Premier title in Dubai and reached semi-finals in Indian Wells and Hobart. She also advanced to the quarter-final of her most recent tournament in Charleston.

These results have propelled the Swiss player up from 55 to 20 in the world rankings. She is currently fifth in the Race to Shenzhen.

Bencic will be joined in round two by Victoria Azarenka, who overcame Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-4, Donna Vekic, who earned a 6-1 7-5 win over qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, and Su-Wei Hsieh, who fought back from a set down to beat Wang Qiang 4-6 6-3 6-4.

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