If there is anyone you can learn about clay-court tennis from, it is Rafael Nadal. Ahead of the Mutua Madrid Open, WTA star Naomi Osaka said she has been trying to implement something the Spaniard does into her own game.
“I think I stole one of the things that he did and I’ve been practising it recently,” Osaka said, without going into specifics. “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.
“Honestly I’ve been wanting to watch the really good clay-court players practise 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 practise.”
The search for improvement is nothing new for Osaka. In Miami, the 24-year-old mentioned she had recently studied Nick Kyrgios’ serve in Los Angeles.
The former World No. 1 is happy to try to learn from others, but don’t expect to see her hitting reverse forehands with a follow-through quite like Nadal’s at the Caja Magica.
“[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,” Osaka said. “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.”