With her current emotions poised on a knife edge, world No. 2 Naomi Osaka plans to keep her tennis travel to a minimum even as she chases Ash Barty for the top WTA ranking.
The winner of the last two Grand Slams in New York and Melbourne has announced she won’t be starting her European clay campaign in Stuttgart, withdrawing in order to spend a maximum time at home in the US.
The shy, soft-spoken four-time winner of major titles admits that homesickness is becoming a problem for her as the COVID-19 turns tennis travel on its head.
“I”m not really sure what a normal schedule is but I’ve never thought of myself as the player that would play week-in and week-out,” Osaka said as the Miami Masters got underway.
“I personally get homesick quite often and it makes me kinda sad sometimes.
I would like to travel somewhere and focus on that (particular) tournament.”
The Japanese player who grew up in the US, will abandon an all-star field at the Tour’s mega indoor clay event.
“Naomi Osaka will now begin the European clay court season a little later in May,” an organiser statement for the April 17-25 event read.
The upcoming edition will be played without crowds, further adding to the dismal and totally uninspiring atmosphere which is enveloping most events so far this season.
The top of the draw will be populated by an all-star cast headed by holder Petra Kvitova and Top 10 rivals Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka and 2018 champion Karolina Pliskova.
While she will be making a late start on clay, Osaka is hoping to improve results on her least favourite surface.
“Hopefully it will work for me this time in Europe because my results there haven’t been that great,” she said.
“But I feel like every year I am on tour I learn more about myself and what type of schedule I like to play.”