Naomi Osaka doesn’t have a loving relationship with clay and grass, but she’s working on improving her skills on those surfaces. In a virtual meeting with BBC Sport, the world No.2 discussed her Roland Garros and Wimbledon prospects.
The challenge of post-slide movement on clay
The 23-year-old is entering this year’s French Open with just one match win on clay this season, against qualifier Misaki Doi in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open. Actually, that’s her sole victory on dirt since Roland Garros 2019.
The interview reveals that Osaka is not so insecure on the terre battue, but there are issues to be solved:
I actually do trust myself sliding [on clay]. I think it’s just the process of moving after the slide which is a bit difficult. It just takes time, and you just have to work on it.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s exactly what Osaka was doing as she fell twice during her Tuesday’s practice at Roland Garros.
Fear of falling on grass
London is an even bigger challenge for Osaka, given her very limited experience on grass. The Japanese didn’t compete as a junior, so all the opportunities she had to play on grass were at Wimbledon and a few tournaments preceding it, such as Birmingham and Eastbourne.
I would say last year  I was definitely very scared, because I actually got injured once on grass because I slipped and I hurt my knee. So it definitely scarred me a little bit.
Asking Novak Djokovic for advice
It’s a bit funny, I talked to [Novak] Djokovic about it, because I wanted to ask him how he moved so well on grass and he said that even though he falls a lot, he keeps getting up and he keeps trying different things. So I guess I’ll try that the next time I’m on grass.
Osaka’s best performance at Wimbledon was a third-round showing. (photo: Jimmie48)