Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is yet to get past the third round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but tennis legend Martina Navratilova believes that the 23-year-old is not far from major trophies on clay and grass.
During a conference call to promote Tennis Channel’s coverage of the Miami Open, Navratilova explained that the difference between surfaces is not as big as before, so Osaka doesn’t have to adapt her game too much to be able to excel away from hardcourts:
The surfaces are much more similar than they used to be. Grass is slower, clay is faster, the balls are faster. You don’t have to make nearly as much of an adjustment as you used to.
The former world No.1 Osaka hasn’t beaten a Top 20 player (0-4) at either Roland Garros or Wimbledon, but the 18-time major champion Navratilova believes that that will change soon:
There’s no doubt that she has the game to win both on the clay and the grass. I think she’s still learning when to pull the trigger on the clay. Grass, there is no reason for her not to dominate on grass, as well. The kick serve is great for grass. It’s magnified by bad bounces, the kick. Her big shots pay off better on grass than the other surfaces, other than maybe a fast court like was in Australia this year.
Navratilova’s opinion is that Osaka just needs to put in more hours on these surfaces and get a bit more comfortable moving on them:
The sky’s the limit. It’s just a matter of putting in the time and getting more instinctual on the surface, that’s all. Especially grass.
When it comes to clay, Navratilova believes that Osaka doesn’t necessarily need to improve her sliding in order to have a chance at winning the French Open, but it would sure help.