‘I need to be able to move better’ – Naomi Osaka identifies source of clay weakness

Naomi Osaka believes an inability to remain on the front foot during rallies is behind her struggles on clay, although she hopes it is something she can improve. 

Osaka is arguably the best hardcourt player in the WTA right now, already winning four Grand Slam titles on the surface.

She has not found clay as conducive to her best tennis, though, and those troubles were once again on display as she made an early exit from Madrid to Karolina Muchova.

Afterwards, though, Osaka was in an analytical mood, and she believes she knows exactly what she needs to fix in order to become a force on the red dirt.

“Yeah, I think for me clay court tennis, I think personally, I’m not sure how other players play, but I’m learning that on clay I can’t afford to not swing through every ball, because that automatically takes me from offense to defence,” Osaka explained.

“And maybe if I start being able to move better I can risk starting to play on defence, but as of right now I think I should be the aggressor.

“I feel like I’m able to gauge when I’m being too defensive, but it’s a bit harder on clay court because I feel it comes right on the first ball.

“So, say, if I were to serve and she hits a return, I would have to immediately be aggressive on that first ball.

“It’s a bit tough, especially on clay with the bad bounces, for me, like, gauging the timing, but I think it’s something I’m super aware of now.

“Hopefully the next match that I play I’m able to turn that switch on faster.”

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