Naomi Osaka recently shared her observations on the positive changes she’s noticed in Aryna Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion. Osaka, who returned to action in January 2024 after a pregnancy and postpartum break of over a year, participated in the Brisbane International 2024 and later competed at the Australian Open.
Having played her last match before the break in September 2022, Osaka witnessed Sabalenka’s rise from having no Grand Slam titles to securing two consecutive triumphs at the Melbourne Major. In an interview with The National, Osaka remarked on Sabalenka’s newfound upbeat aura, highlighting her relaxed demeanor and increased smiles. Osaka mentioned, “The biggest difference that I’ve seen since coming back on tour… she has a different energy around her, I see her smiling more.”
Additionally, Osaka emphasized Sabalenka’s formidable presence on the court, stating, “I’ve always felt like she was a player that people didn’t really want to play. And that’s something that’s very powerful.” According to Osaka, Sabalenka’s breakthrough was not unexpected, expressing, “I’m not really surprised by any of this.”
While Osaka has faced challenges on her own comeback journey, experiencing early exits from tournaments such as the Brisbane International and the Australian Open, she remains optimistic. Despite her recent loss to Danielle Collins at the Abu Dhabi Open, Osaka continues to compete, looking ahead to her doubles match alongside Ons J’abeur.