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Naomi Osaka on Appeal of Elites In Tennis

Naomi Osaka from Japan in action against Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2018. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON

 

 

INDIAN WELLS—Naomi Osaka continues her charge through the BNP Paribas Open field combining firepower and fun.

 

The 20-year-old Osaka overpowered 31st-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3, 6-2, today to roll into the BNP Paribas Open third round for the second year in a row.

 

The 44th-ranked Osaka backed up her opening-round sweep of former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova battering touch artist Radwanska from the baseline.

 

Osaka, who grew up in New York and represents Japan, is fast becoming one of the most entertaining players on tour thanks to her explosive game and engaging press conferences.

 

The only Japanese woman in the BNP Paribas Open field has routinely rocked the radar gun with 115 mph serves this week.

 

Osaka said there are two primary reasons she gets so pumped up for playing elite opponents: the allure of facing television stars and their anger management skills.

 

“I mean, I think playing against people that you see on TV and stuff, it’s always really fun,” Osaka said. “And, yeah, I would have enjoyed the match less if I lost. So, of course, I enjoyed it today. Like, how do I explain? Like, going into it is completely different. Like, the pace from the very warmup, it was totally different.

 

Naomi Osaka from Japan in action against Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 March 2018. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON

“But, yeah, I feel like playing against the real good players, they don’t get angry or anything. So I think just focusing on what you have to do and stuff, I think that’s really good.”

 

Osaka’s reward for beating the former Wimbledon finalist may well be a meeting with reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza if the world No. 3 beats American qualifier Sachia Vickery tonight.

 

“I was lucky enough to practice with her two times before that, so I kind of know the pace of the balls and stuff,” Osaka said of Muguruza. “But I’m not really looking out too much.

 

“I sort of just want to focus on myself and what I have to do, because I feel like everyone from now, well, for me, even from the first round is a quality player. I don’t want to psych myself out too much.”

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