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“I’m Delusional Enough to Think I Could Have Won the Tournament” – Disappointed Naomi Osaka Talks Next Steps

The four-time Slam champion acquitted herself very well in Australia, just six months after giving birth. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 15, 2024

Naomi Osaka ran into a buzzsaw by the name of Caroline Garcia on Monday night at the Australian Open (talk about a brutal draw), and saw her comeback to the Grand Slam stage cut short by a player who rose to the occasion and outdueled her for a hard-fought victory.

Rare as it seems to see Osaka on the back foot, the Japanese star isn’t the first player left seeking answers against Garcia, who plays some of the most hyper aggressive first-strike tennis in the women’s game.

“I felt like I was constantly on my back foot and really hesitant,” the four-time major champion admitted after her 6-4 7-6(2) loss to the Frenchwoman. “I think it might be because I haven’t played matches in a while. I was a little bit overthinking in my head where to go.”

Grading @naomiosaka‘s performance in her #AusOpen return 📝

— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) January 15, 2024

But Osaka, just six months removed from giving birth to her first daughter Shai, still sees her performance as a positive, despite the loss. She knows what it took to come from childbirth to Rod Laver Arena in a frantic six-month period.

“Of course I have to tell myself, ‘Hey, like six months ago you were pregnant,’ stuff like that,” she said. “Of course, like, there’s a voice in my head that is [saying], ‘Who are you to think you can come back and immediately start winning matches?’”

Still, the pride of achieving a commendable zero to sixty comeback doesn’t dampen the disappointment for an ultra competitive athlete that expects herself to win – no matter the circumstances.

“I don’t know,” she added. “I kind of always expect myself to stand a chance anyways. The competitive [person] in me is really frustrated that I’m not winning these matches, of course. So I wouldn’t say this comeback is how I thought because I’m delusional enough to think I could have won the tournament – think my delusion is what allows me to win the tournaments.”

Nevertheless, Osaka remains hopeful that she will find her world-beating form sometime soon. She plans to play an extremely busy schedule in 2024, and hopes to improve her form, as well as her overall performance on clay and grass courts.

Tennis fans will be seeing a lot of the former World No.1, if she stays healthy.

“I’m definitely thinking of playing Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, then probably like a full clay season,” she said.

If she stays healthy we’ll be seeing a lot of Naomi Osaka this year: “I’m definitely thinking of playing Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, then probably like a full clay season.”

— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) January 15, 2024

In the end, Osaka had to admit that she surprised herself by her own ability to compete at a high level so soon.

“It’s weird because I felt like when I was in L.A. training, I was really worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with any of the girls that I played in my matches,” she said. “Coming here and I guess playing three tough matches, I feel positive that I’m able to play, I’m at least able to challenge them.”

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