Naomi Osaka: I want to prove myself

Published by Leigh Rogers

FOCUSED: Naomi Osaka is determined to continue her strong results; Getty Images
A candid Naomi Osaka admitted she is feeling pressure to prove herself after a China Open semifinal exit today. It follows a stellar rise up the ranks and winning her first Grand Slam title.

A lot of people would love to be Naomi Osaka right now.

The 20-year-old has won 14 of her past 16 matches, including a Grand Slam title-winning run in New York, and she will rise to a career-high ranking of No.4 next week.

The Japanese player has also recently signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nissan and is expected to extend her partnership with adidas.

FEATURE: Osaka tops September money list

But with success comes added pressure, as Osaka is quickly discovering.

She spoke candidly in press today after a China Open semifinal loss, revealing she still feels she had a lot to prove.

“I think humans are people, they’re never happy. And I’m not really talking about myself. I’m just saying, like, from the outside, I guess,” Osaka admitted.

“If you don’t win a tournament, then people will say, ‘Oh, she hasn’t won a tournament’ If you haven’t won a Slam, they’ll say, ‘She hasn’t won a Slam’. Then if you win one Grand Slam, they’re like, ‘Oh, she only won one Grand Slam’.

“I know it’s bad, but I sort of read the comments. I’m just, like, ‘Oh, I guess I have to do more, to be better’. I mean, in a way I guess it’s good for me because I think that way myself anyways. I think that’s one of the things that makes me want to prove myself.”

NEWS: Osaka describes US Open as ‘bittersweet’

A back injury hampered Osaka in her 6-4 6-4 loss to Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in Beijing today – but it is clear she is also mentally exhausted after a life-changing month.

“I don’t want to say I’m hyped, but I feel like I am right now. So then I think just people keep wanting more,” Osaka said.

“For me, I don’t think that people necessarily understand that in tennis there’s good days and bad days. That’s part of the process. If you look at me as a whole this year, I think I’ve definitely improved a lot. So for me, that’s good enough, and I’m happy. Every tournament is like a different journey.”

Osaka is scheduled to compete in Hong Kong next week, before ending her season with her debut at the elite WTA Finals in Singapore.

She is hopeful her back injury won’t impact her from finishing her breakthrough season strongly.

“I got assessed, and I was told that it wasn’t, like, a life-threatening injury,” she said, with a big smile.

“I was just told that it’s from fatigue, I’ve played a lot of matches and stuff. It’s basically just a matter of resting.”

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