Osaka keeps feet on ground and opin­ions to her­self

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - CHRIS CAVANAGH

SUC­CESS at the US Open last year has not changed Naomi Osaka, who as­serts she is as awk­ward as ever in the locker rooms and does not have an in­flated opin­ion of her­self or her chances at this year’s Aus­tralian Open.

Osaka 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 in 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 with “small talk” with other play­ers on the tour.

“I don’t talk to peo­ple, so I wouldn’t know what they’re think­ing,” Osaka said, who meets Poland’s Magda Linette in her first-round match of the Open on Tues­day.

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