MADRID, Spain -- Naomi Osaka has a few new tricks up her sleeve. The former No.1 has been training in Mallorca and hopes that a few new additions to her game will yield a clay breakthrough as she starts her clay season this week at the Mutua Madrid Open. 

"Actually yes, I changed a couple of things," Osaka told reporters at Media Day in Madrid. "I think you guys will be able to tell when I play. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I would say I did change a couple of things to suit myself more for clay. 

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After making the Miami Open final last month, Osaka took two weeks off before heading to Europe to begin her clay preparations.  

"I’m trying to embrace my mistakes compared to the previous years as well, so I’m not that hard on myself," she said. "If I make a mistake or if I don’t move up to the ball fast enough – because I find on clay you actually have to move much more - but if I do stuff like that I just tell myself not to be mad. I’m still a student so I should try to keep learning.

"So I’m really excited to play my first match."

Most notably, Osaka revealed she might even try to incorporate some things she's learned from watching Rafael Nadal over the years on clay. 

"I think I stole one of the things that he did and I’ve been practicing it recently," Osaka said. "It’ll either go really good or really bad. There’s like no in between. But I think as I’ve been doing it, it’s been going pretty well. 

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"Honestly I’ve been wanting to watch the really good clay-court players practice because I feel like I’m the type of person that learns really fast if I see it up close, and honestly it’s a bit of a waste to have all these really good professional tennis players and not watch them. I’ve kind of wanted to see [Carlos] Alcaraz, so it’d be cool to watch everyone practice."

"I know that every kid growing up playing tennis in the world has pretended to be Nadal at least once."

So are we going to see a left-handed Osaka bolo-whip forehand anytime soon? Not exactly. 

"[Can you] Imagine? I’ve actually been warming up kind of left-handed but I don’t think that’s a skill that’s going to show itself anytime soon. It’s just like for technical reasons. If I hit left-handed forehands, it’s easier to hit a backhand if that makes sense. 

"I know that every kid growing up playing tennis in the world has pretended to be Nadal at least once." 

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Into Madrid as a wildcard this week, Osaka will open against a qualifier. If she wins, she will face either French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, who beat Osaka on clay at the Billie Jean Cup in 2020. 

"I always say I want to have a good time, which is true, even off the court I want to have a good time," Osaka said, when asked what her goals were for the week. "I’m trying to take it one tournament at a time. 

"Of course winning matches and leading up into the French, I want to get to the semis of either here or Rome, hopefully win. But I’m going to set a little goal first."

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