American author Steve Flink, who famously penned Pete Sampras' biography, recently gave his thoughts about Naomi Osaka's future prospects following her 2021 Australian Open triumph.
Osaka beat Jennifer Brady in the final at Melbourne last Saturday to claim the fourth Slam title of her career. Aged just 23, the Japanese has impressed fans and pundits alike with her power-packed game and steely resolve.
In light of Naomi Osaka's tremendous success at such a young age, Steve Flink has predicted that she can win 11-12 Slams in her career - with even Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova's tally of 18 Slams being within reach.
"My projection is 11-12 for sure, but I think that might be a conservative estimate because if she may be a player like Djokovic or Nadal, she's picking them (Slams) up every year," Flink said. "Two one year, two the following year. I see it definitely going into the double digits, and she might get close to Chrissie Evert at 18."
The American author also claimed that Naomi Osaka is fast emerging as the dominant force in tennis, with many anointing her the pre-tournament favorite at the Slams.
"When we did our preview about it (2021 Australian Open), she had a great chance to win this tournament," Flink added. "And she's emerging now was the next dominant force in women's tennis."
Flink went on to assert that a physically fit Naomi Osaka is as dangerous a player as they come.
"As long as she was physically healthy, she had an injury before the tournament of some concern," the American said. "If physically things were right, she was always gonna sweep through the draw and she did that."
I don't think Naomi Osaka has even reached 75% of her potential: Steve Flink
The only time Naomi Osaka faced trouble during her 2021 Australian Open campaign was when she had to rally from two match points down against Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round. Flink touched on Osaka's clutch performance during the match, where the 23-year-old saved the first match point with an ace down the T and the second with a big forehand.
"It was a battle between two Major champions, Muguruza has Roland Garros & Wimbledon and Naomi 2 US Opens and Australian Opens," Flink said. "So it was a battle between champions, Muguruza played a great match. Naomi was serving 3-5 15-40 at one point so Muguruza really wanted to put her away there."
"Osaka hit an ace down the T, then coerced error from Muguruza forehand to come all the way back to win 7-5," he added. "I thought it was more about Osaka's greatness than any vulnerability in Muguruza."
When asked about the attributes that Naomi Osaka could still improve, Steve Flink replied that she might need to work on her defensive skills a bit. According to Flink, Osaka's game is yet to hit its ceiling; the American believes she has not even reached 75% of her potential yet.
"She's yet to show it on clay or grass," Flink said. "But I'm thinking she is nowhere near here peak yet, so exciting about how she has won 2 Australian Open titles and 2 US Open titles. I don't think she's even reached 75% of her potential."