Naomi Osaka won't let her loss in the Miami Open final put a damper on her drive. The former No.1 had a resurgent fortnight at her home tournament, making her first final since winning the 2021 Australian Open. On Saturday, Osaka came up against the hottest player on tour, incoming World No.1 Iga Swiatek, falling short 6-4, 6-0.
"Iga was quite different from all the players that I've played previously, so it was a bit hard to adjust to what she was doing," Osaka told reporters afterward. "But I think hopefully if I play her next time, it will be a much better match.
"I'm not as disappointed as I normally would be. Normally, I would be crying in the locker room or something, but now I'm kind of chill. I feel like I know what I want to do better, and I just want to go back and start training again to hopefully win a tournament next time."
Osaka: "I just couldn't really figure out what to do on her 2nd serve. I didn't really know if I should go forward or go back…. But other than that, I thought it was kind of cool to see her movement up close.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 2, 2022
"Yeah, all in all, it was a sad outcome but it was a fun day." pic.twitter.com/kMGPCUoS2c
Osaka came into Miami ranked No.77 and under threat of dropping out of the Top 100. She leaves with a return to the Top 40, and while her short-term goal is to be seeded at Roland Garros in May, make no mistake - Naomi Osaka wants to be back on top.
"I think by next year or by the end of this year, I would love to be Top 10," Osaka said. By next year I would love to be the No.1.
Osaka almost tried to catch herself. "Oh, that's a big statement. Erase that. Top 5. You know what? I'm going to set that goal. Top 1, yeah. No.1.
"It feels kind of good to chase something, and I think that maybe that's a feeling that I have been missing, like wanting to strive to do better. For me, it's cool to see where the level of No.1 is so I can find out if I can reach that."
Osaka: "A couple years ago, I had a dinner with her in Australia, and she was telling me she might go to college. I was telling her, Don't do that.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 2, 2022
"You're welcome, Iga. Anyways... (Smiling)." pic.twitter.com/wmDxKQw5ny
To accelerate her return to the Top 10, Osaka says she is taking the clay season seriously this year. In past seasons, Osaka has remained stateside during her clay preparation. This year she will head to Europe early to train ahead of her next tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open.
"I'm going to watch a lot of Nadal videos to see how he moves," Osaka said. "Shout out, [Carlos] Alcaraz, because he's killing it.
"I just think that knowing I'm still a student and I have to keep learning, clay and grass is something I really want to tackle this year. So I'm willing kind of to do whatever it takes to get good results.
"Not that results are everything, but I really want to do well."
As she targets the clay season, Osaka will take lessons learned from her loss to Swiatek, one of the premier clay-court players in the game. Osaka has enjoyed success on the surface - she has previously made a Stuttgart semifinal, Madrid quarterfinal, and Rome quarterfinal - but has yet to progress to the second week in Paris.
"I'm clearly not a clay expert, but I feel like if I get my movement together, I should be pretty good. I grew up on green clay, being from here, so it shouldn't be that foreign to me. And I know Madrid, Sabalenka won that last year, so I think that there are opportunities for me to do well.
"I think I just have to get my mentality together to know that every match would be a fight."
Could we see the third installment of the budding Osaka-Swiatek rivalry on clay?
"Rivalries are what make the sport go around. People want to see the matchup in different countries or different surfaces. I think that's the most exciting thing about tennis is that you play in different altitudes, different conditions. So yeah. I don't know if she really considers me a rival, but sure, that would be fun.
"I think that she's really amazing for the sport. All the young players, like Raducanu, Coco, I think it's bringing this new generation. I don't know if I'm part of the new generation as well. I might be like a middle guard. It's definitely really cool to see a young player at the top."