When you consider all that Naomi Osaka has accomplished in her short career, her body language spoke volumes at the French Open. The pressure to maintain the top seed showed and playing her first Gram Slam at the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player seemed to throw her off her game.
The first set at the French Open for Osaka was one filled with errors, and it allowed Schmiedlova to gain an advantage, but while the match went three sets, Schmiedlova eventually fell to Naomi Osaka 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, and the No.1 seeded players’ frustrations were evident by the sarcastic thumbs-up she gave to her box. Commenting, Osaka said,
“Definitely sarcastic. I was kind of thinking: ‘Do you guys see this amazing tennis I’m playing right here? Thumbs-up.’ I don’t even know what I wanted them to do. I felt kind of bad after I did it. It was more like I had to put my emotions somewhere. It’s one of those matches where you’re not playing well, but you have to find a way to win. For me, I’ve just begun learning how to do that.”
Osaka, who faced defeat in multiple games throughout the first set managed to keep it together and was able to overcome the errors and find her game to improve her winning streak of fifteen matches at majors and was able to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. That is good news for tennis punters who wish to place bets with leading sportsbooks such at Spin Sports on Osaka winning her third Grand Slam.
Once Naomi Osaka found her groove, she sent a brutal forehand that Schmiedlova was unable to respond too, and that saw Osaka giving a fist pump towards her box. In post-match media interviews, she commented that it had a lot to do with the jitters as she looks to win her third back-to-back major title. Commenting on how being ranked No.1 is making her feel, Osaka said,
“I feel like I’m thinking too much about the number next to my name right now, instead of feeling free and having fun like I normally do in Grand Slams. The reason that I wasn’t moving my feet is because I was super nervous, super stressed.”
Simona Halep, the defending champion of the French Open could relate. This year’s French Open she is defending her title and also performed poorly in her first match against Ajla Tomljanovic having to go three sets to get the win. Halep commented that,
“I need to be calm. Just focused on my game. Not thinking about my opponents and not thinking about the result.”
One of the things against Osaka in Paris is the clay court surface, which is never been favoured by the Japanese player. The style is better suited towards hard courts. That is evident with her win at the U.S. Open last September and her win at January’s Australian Open. However, at the French Open, she seems to struggle with the clay surface, and while she has a respectable record on clay surfaces this year, she tends to slow off the start.
Osaka did comment that she is beginning to feel better playing on the surface. However, her play against Schmiedlova suggested anything but after going down 30 points in the opening game and making eighteen unforced and twelve forced errors. If Osaka is to earn her third back-to-back major title, she will need to play a lot better against Victoria Azarenka in her next match. Speaking on the upcoming match, Azarenka said,
“It’s going to be exciting for me. I love to challenge myself against the best players.”