Naomi Osaka is well-versed in the difficult task of defending a title. But after a confidence-boosting start to her 2022 campaign last week at the Melbourne Summer Set, where she advanced to the semifinals, the reigning Australian Open champion is keeping things quiet and simple as the first major of the season approaches.
"I've been defending champion like three times before, and I've clearly never been able to defend it," Osaka told reporters at Media Day at the Australian Open. "But I think there's of course added pressure. You always think about it more often than not.
"But for me, I just want to come into this tournament playing well. I think that bottom line, if I play well I'll be able to get far. If I happen to lose, then that's something that I can learn on and keep practicing and hopefully evolve from that."
This time around, Osaka has taken a different approach to her preparation. She's spent the time in her room journaling.
"I've been writing how I feel every day," Osaka said. "I went out to the store and bought candles and incense so I built a routine in my room because I knew I was going to be there for a little bit.
"Other than that, just trying to have fun with my team, knowing there's a lot of players that would love to be in the position that I am in right now because being in the main draw of a Slam is definitely a goal.
"Yeah, just taking every day one day at a time."
Osaka is set to get underway Monday against Colombia's Camila Osorio. The two have never faced and Osaka said she'll be relying on her coach Wim Fissette's notoriously thorough scouting notes to prepare. Asked whether her three weeks in Melbourne have left her settled and calm as she returns to competition, Osaka said she'll have a better sense after her first match.
When the top half gets underway, Osaka will be in the mix alongside No.1 Ashleigh Barty. The two have been drawn into the same section and could face in the Round of 16. Preferring not to look ahead at the draw, Osaka only found out about her potential Barty matchup when someone told her while she was out and about in the city.
"For me I think she's the ideal No.1," Osaka said. "She's so consistent. I saw last year all the sacrifices she made to travel without coming back to Australia. I knew that must have been really tough.
"Last year I only practiced with her one time. It was at the French Open. I think she's really amazing. She's always so positive. Her and her coach, they're always really nice to everyone that I can see. Yeah, I really like her a lot."