Why is Naomi Osaka struggling so much on clay?
Naomi Osaka’s struggles on clay continued on Wednesday, with her disappointing exit from the Italian Open.
The four-time Grand Slam champion suffered a crushing defeat against Jessica Pegula — down 7-6 (2), 6-2 in Roma.
World No. 31 Pegula has a strong 2021 – but it’s no exaggeration to say she has little chance if the match is on hard courts.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
But on clay, Osaka has a much weaker character.
The Japanese star is ostensibly 1-2 this year and will enter the French Open as the title’s main underdog.
Naomi Osaka’s Clay Problem Could Be Mental
Osaka has yet to reach the final in her clay career and has never played in the third round in Paris.
Before her fiasco in Rome, she spoke again of her disturbed relationship with the surface.
Naomi Osaka said: “I think there are things I’ve improved, but the comfort, I’m not sure I should tell you that, but I’m still not very comfortable.
“I’m not sure if it’s because I need to play on it longer or if I just haven’t grown up.” (give me exercise)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images
What stands out about Osaka’s lack of confidence on clay is her moves – which usually look hard.
Her frustration was palpable on Wednesday as she uncharacteristically dropped her racket off the ground late in the first set.
She knows she has the ability to play and most importantly, she has the mentality to do better on clay and grass.
Barring an injury, she will still win more majors in New York and Melbourne.
But when she hangs up her racket, she has to make a foray into Paris and London to really be considered one of the best.
Thankfully, at 23, she has plenty of time to get things done.
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Hamish is a seasoned Scottish football writer who has been a season ticket holder at Celtic Park for over a decade.
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