- Naomi Osaka whiffed a simple overhead slam during her first-round match at the Australian Open.
- She laughed it off, but noted later that she “previously would get upset” at that type of error.
- “I’m here because I want to be here… so I might as well enjoy it while I still can,” Osaka said.
Naomi Osaka absolutely whiffed a smash during her opening match of this year’s Australian Open.
But instead of berating herself for the uncharacteristic error, the 24-year-old reigning champion laughed it off.
During the seventh game of Osaka’s first set against Camila Osorio, the 20-year-old Colombian lofted a shot just over the net for what should have been an easy return for the former world No. 1.
Instead, Osaka caught nothing but air as she swung her racket above her head and let out an “Oh my god!” audible to in-person and television audience members alike.
Then she spun on the heel of her custom butterfly sneakers, clutched her chest, and chuckled with the crowd.
Here’s another angle:
—Tennis GIFs ???????? (@tennis_gifs) January 17, 2022
Osaka acknowledged after the match — which she won 6-3, 6-3 — that she “previously would get upset” upon making an unforced error like the one above. But the four-time Grand Slam champion said that a change in mindset following her withdrawal from last year’s French Open and subsequent prolonged hiatus from competition helped her keep the bigger picture in mind.
“It came throughout this offseason that I had, where I felt like I wanted to come back to play tennis,” Osaka said during her post-match press conference. “Usually, it feels like a bit automatic. We as tennis players have the little break, and then we immediately start the [season] again. For me, I came back when I wanted to come back.”
“At this point in my life, I’m here because I want to be here and because I find that it’s fun for me,” she added. “So I might as well enjoy it while I still can, and just to be playing on Rod Laver and to have such a good streak on Rod Laver is something that I could be proud of and something I should enjoy.”
Osaka is undoubtedly at her strongest in Melbourne. The Japanese superstar has won two of the last three Grand Slams held at Rod Laver Arena and boasts an incredible 23-4 record at the first major tennis tournament of the year.
That caliber of success doesn’t come easy, and for a long time, Osaka’s pursuit of perfection resulted in self-deprecation when things went awry. She’s recently adopted a more positive attitude — one that allows her to laugh when she whiffs an easy volley — but Osaka says it takes a lot of effort to push back on her instinct to react with anger.
“I’m still conscious of it,” she told the media. “It’s not an automatic thing to laugh about it, but I’m trying to change my mindset.”
Osaka will take the court again on Wednesday. She’ll face American Madison Brengle in a second-round match beginning 7 p.m. local time, or 3 a.m. EST.