Sunday, April 14, 2024
Hometennis‘Superstar’ Naomi Osaka’s return a boost for women’s tour, says Patrick Mouratoglou

‘Superstar’ Naomi Osaka’s return a boost for women’s tour, says Patrick Mouratoglou

LOS ANGELES – The women’s tour needs superstars and will benefit from former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka’s long-awaited return following a 15-month break, top tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou has said.

The four-time Grand Slam champion last played a WTA event at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022 and had a daughter, Shai, this July.

She has said that she is excited about her return to action at the Brisbane International, a warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which takes place at Melbourne Park from Jan 14 to 28.

“I think it’s the best news for women’s tennis,” Mouratoglou, former coach of Serena Williams, told Eurosport.

“Now you have Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka, not that there are no others because of course there are many others, but I think those two are super exciting.

“They are superstars, so they’re great for the WTA. The WTA needs superstars. We had so many great years with Serena, Venus (Williams) and Maria Sharapova, who are three really huge stars.

“And I think it draws a lot of attention to women’s tennis when you have players like that. So I’m very excited that Naomi comes back. I think she’s great.”

Mouratoglou also tipped Osaka to perform well on her comeback, saying her raw power and aggressive style would help her shake off any rust.

“She has such a huge game, huge shots,” the Frenchman added.

“I think having the mindset, the will and the shots, she can really do some damage. She will be ready for the Australian Open. She will just lack matches.

“So we’ll know quite fast if she’s able to be competitive immediately or if she will need a bit more time to become competitive. But I feel she will be competitive straight away.”

The 26-year-old Osaka meanwhile, has also set her sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I definitely want to win more Grand Slams and I guess put in more time in the French Open and Wimbledon, and play the Paris Olympics,” said the Japanese, who had been open with her mental health issues in the past.

“I want to be someone that understands the game a lot more. In the first chapter of my tennis I kind of got away with just being myself and playing with my instincts.”

Osaka’s most recent Grand Slam win was at the Australian Open in 2021, which was her second title at Melbourne Park following her 2019 triumph.

She also won the US Open in 2020 and 2018. REUTERS

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