Rac­quet does all her talk­ing

Sunday Mail - - SPORT -

SUC­CESS at the US Open last year has not changed Naomi Osaka, who claims she is as awk­ward as ever in the locker rooms and doesn’t have a high opin­ion of her­self or her chances at this year’s Aus­tralian Open.

Oaska said she would be tak­ing her cam­paign at Melbourne Park “one step at a time” and did not have an eye on the ul­ti­mate prize, hav­ing not pro­gressed past the fourth round of the Aus­tralian Open from three pre­vi­ous at­tempts.

The 21-year-old claimed a maiden Grand Slam ti­tle at the US Open last Septem­ber with vic­tory over Ser­ena Wil­liams in the fi­nal, but said aside from hav­ing more peo­ple ask for pho­tos, her life had largely re­mained the same.

“For the most part I’ve just been do­ing the same things, which are, like, prac­tis­ing, go­ing to the gym,” Osaka said.

“I mean, I feel the same. I think it would be bad if I changed in, like, three months.”

Osaka said while she had grown in con­fi­dence speak­ing to me­dia, she was still hes­i­tant talk­ing with peo­ple one-on-one and strug­gled to “small talk” with other play­ers on the women’s tour.

“I don’t talk to peo­ple, so I wouldn’t know what they’re think­ing,” Osaka said when asked whether locker room chat sug­gest Wil­liams was the player to beat at this year’s Aus­tralian Open.

Osaka – who fin­ished last year with a world rank­ing of No.5 – meets Poland’s Magda Linette in her first round match of the Aus­tralian Open on Tuesday, an op­po­nent she lost to when the pair last met in Washington DC in July. “I thought that she played re­ally well. She’s a very con­sis­tent player. She doesn’t re­ally miss balls,” Osaka said of Linette.

Picture: DANIEL POCK­ETT/AAP

HUM­BLE: Naomi Osaka isn’t get­ting ahead of her­self as she pre­pares for her Aus­tralian Open first round match on Tuesday.

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