Despite four Grand Slam titles and the No. 2 ranking, Naomi Osaka has confessed there is a big hole in her resume as she begins play at the Madrid Masters.
The Japanese ace owns seven trophies – all at either the four majors or other top tournaments – but has yet to taste success on clay.
Her closest shot came in 2019, when she reached the Stuttgart semi-finals only to lose as top seed to Anett Kontaveit.
Her best in Madrid came at the last edition held in 2019, when she lost in the quarters to Swiss Belinda Bencic.
Osaka admitted that while she tries to keep an open mind on her possibilities, the clay cloud still hovers overhead.
“I do better when I don’t stress myself out and tell myself that I have to win a tournament,” the second seed said in the Masters run-up.
“But it’s really hard to fight that feeling when you really want something.
“I haven’t played a clay tournament in, like, two years (Paris, June, 2019). I haven’t touched clay in two years either.
“I’m just going in here just trying to have fun and trying to build match play for French (starting May 30).”
Osaka has not played since losing a Miami quarter-final in last March.
“For me, it’s exciting to go into the clay court swing because I haven’t won a tournament on clay yet.
“Even though that does make me a bit excited, it also gives me a bit of, like, stress because I really want to do well here.”
Main photo:- Naomi Osaka during her last claycourt appearance ,Roland Garros 2019 – by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd