Tennis

What to expect from Naomi Osaka at Indian Wells

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN
  • Naomi Osaka is optimistic of a thundering comeback
  • She was handed a wild card to the Indian Wells which starts on March 21
  • Osaka has a difficult opener at the BNP Paribas Open. She will play America’s Sloane Stephens the 2017 US Open champion for the opening match

Naomi Osaka is upbeat of better days ahead as she returns to the court at the Indian Wells in the US, Lindsay Davenport says.

Davenport, the former world No. 1 suggest that Osaka is in her right spirits after battling difficult months since last year.

“I’ve heard she’s in a wonderful place, a much better space than she was last year, and that she’s excited to get back out and competing,” the American told Reuters.

The Four-time Grand Slam champion made her first appearance at the Melbourne Summer Set and Australian Open in January 2022. This was after four months – since Leylah Fernandez knocked her out of the US Open 2021.

Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022 at Melbourne Summer set. Photo/Tennisconnected

Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022 at Melbourne Summer set.

While 2020 was a great season for Osaka having won the Australian Open, 2021 was a hard rock to crack. She withdrew from the French Open citing her mental wellness.

She had just spoken of her decision not to have any more press conferences because they made her nervous and triggered her anxiety.

Osaka opted out of the Wimbledon but made an appearance for Tokyo Olympics, and later the US Open which sent her on a hiatus after a third-round defeat.

The 24-year-old Japanese tennis star opened up about her battle with depression. She said that pressure to always win was taking a toll on her that she never felt happy anymore after winning a match.

It was worse if she lost a match. Osaka headed down to Greece for a holiday and rejuvenation. She missed the rest of the season only to appear in mid-December practising.

She dropped out of the Melbourne Summerset after suffering an injury ahead of the Australian Open.

Unfortunately, she lost it in the third round but is set to redeem herself at the Indian Wells slated for March 21-March 28.

The tournament’s organizers handed her a wild card to play once more since 2018.

Osaka has a difficult opener at the BNP Paribas Open. She will play America’s Sloane Stephens the 2017 US Open champion for the opening match.

Admittedly, Davenport says it will be a tight match that requires her to be on top of her game. However, Osaka is fully motivated after her Australian Open loss.

A wild card in tennis means inviting a player for a tournament even if they have not met the qualification requirements based on their rating.

If a tennis player wants to enter a tournament on short notice, they may ask for a wild card and acquire one.

A player with a ranking of 200, for example, may not be eligible to compete in high-level ATP and WTA Grand Slam tournaments.

They won’t be immediately qualified. But, receiving a wild card for straight entry is one way around this.

The tournament director is almost always responsible for making the final decision.

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2022 at Melbourne Summer set. Photo/Tennisconnected

Wild cards aren’t granted in the same proportions for every tournament, but there have been some noticeable trends in recent years.

Around eight wildcards will be given out at Grand Slam tournaments. If the field is smaller than the Masters 1000 level, the average number of prizes awarded is roughly three.

There is a strong preference for home players in nearly every competition.

Not only will they be able to draw more attention, but they won’t have to travel halfway across the country to get to the competition.

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