Ahead of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, top players took time to meet with the media. Ons Jabeur and Naomi Osaka spoke about their expectations for returning to hard court for the first week of the US Open Series — Jabeur without the support of her team in San Jose, Osaka after a recent split with her coach Wim Fissette.
Third seed Ons Jabeur was in good spirits. While defeat is always a disappointment, looking back at the Wimbledon final, she said, “To be honest with you, I feel like I won the title.” The Tunisian added that, “After the final I saw Kim Clijsters and she said ‘it took me five finals to get my first Grand Slam.’ It was kind of a relief for me to hear that from her.”
This week, Jabeur is taking on the tournament without the immediate support of her team. They will join her in Toronto, but for now she said, she wants “to experience how to be alone with myself and how to correct myself on the court. This is individual sport and at the end of the day, I’m on the court alone and I’m with my thoughts. So I thought it would be great experience for me to try that out.”
The world No.5 Jabeur received a bye in the first round, but will test this new experience against American Madison Keys in the second round.
Naomi Osaka has a significant shakeup as well. This will be her first tournament since parting from coach Wim Fissette. The four-time major champion explained, “Wim’s really amazing coach and we didn’t part on bad terms. I just felt like I needed different energy and also at the same time, he’s a very ambitious guy. I was getting injured and I’m sure he would have wanted to go to Wimbledon and stuff. So it was kind of like two different mindsets I would say.”
For now, Osaka is back to working closely with her father. “I just felt like I wanted to bring my dad back because he always makes me kind of think outside of the box and say, like whenever I think something’s really bad, he makes me realize that things are much more positive than they seem.”
Off-court, Osaka has been keeping family close too, working with sister Mari to design a new racquet and bag for Yonex. Of the collaboration, she said, “I’ve always been really into design and creating things that’s kind of how I keep my mind off a lot of random thoughts that I probably shouldn’t be thinking about.”
With a rested body and refreshed mind and spirit, Osaka poses a bigger threat than her current ranking, world No. 41, suggests. She faces Zheng Qinwen in the first round Tuesday.