World No. 2 Naomi Osaka began her 2021 Mutua Madrid Open campaign on a positive note, defeating compatriot Misaki Doi in the first round on Friday. Osaka struck 26 winners and returned serve very well to clinch a 7-5, 6-2 victory.
The Japanese will next face Karolina Muchova in the second round on Sunday.
Speaking to the media after her win over Doi, Osaka shed some light on her troubles adjusting to the claycourts of Madrid. The 23-year-old revealed that she has been having a difficult time while training on clay, but added that her coach Wim Fissette helped her greatly with his inputs.
"The first two days that I was training this year (in Madrid), with Wim (Wim Fissette, her coach) I was very irritated, because I’m used to coming back and feeling the ball and not feeling like I’ve been away for a bit," Osaka said. "But on clay I think it’s much different, you have to adjust your feet in a different way. The bad bounces are definitely really troubling but I talked to Wim, he said that’s normal and you just have to stay calm."
Naomi Osaka went on to assert that she won't make wholesale changes to her game on clay, and instead will try to maintain her aggressive brand of tennis. The four-time Major champion claimed she has no intention of adopting a 'pusher' style of play, as she believes that will be counterproductive.
"I try to play my natural way," Osaka said. "I'd say if I start thinking about grinding too much I become a bit of a pusher and it's not really good for me. Of course you want to adapt and do things that are beneficial but hopefully I don’t change too much."
Naomi Osaka has been working on her "mobility and sliding" on clay
Ahead of her Madrid Open campaign, Naomi Osaka had mentioned that she had been focusing on a few aspects of claycourt tennis while training under coach Wim Fissette. When asked to give more details about that, the Japanese revealed she has been working on her movement and sliding on clay.
"I don’t know if I’m supposed to be exposing him (Wim Fissette) and his secrets," Osaka said with a smile. "I would say it’s more like mobility and sliding, like clay-court specific."
Turning her attention back to her win over Misaki Doi, the 23-year-old highlighted the fact that she managed to lift her level in the second set. Naomi Osaka believes she can continue to improve upon her claycourt mobility with more hours of training.
"I feel like I started playing better in the second set, so movement-wise it can only get better and hopefully as I put in more hours on the court it will just keep improving," Naomi Osaka added.