Osaka eager to go from strength to strength in 2019

Despite being in tears as she bowed out of the WTA Finals due to injury, Naomi Osaka hopes she will have plenty to smile about next year.

Naomi Osaka believes she can be a force on all surfaces next year after suffering an anticlimactic end to her magnificent breakthrough season at the WTA Finals.

The 21-year-old made history by becoming the first Japanese player to win a grand slam title with a sensational defeat of Serena Williams at the US Open last month.

Osaka claimed her first WTA title when winning the Indian Wells Masters in March and she has experienced a rapid rise, having been as low as 72nd in the rankings in January.

The world number four was reduced to tears as she retired from her decisive final round-robin match against Kiki Bertens in Singapore on Friday due to a hamstring injury, ensuring the Dutch debutant advanced to the semi-finals from the Red Group along with Sloane Stephens.

Osaka plans to return in 2019 ready to prove she can thrive on every surface.

“I feel like I’ll rest, but, for me, whenever I rest, the first day I’m happy I’m home because I’m just laying down and not doing anything, but then the second day I’m really bored and I start thinking I want to play again,” said the US Open champion.

“I just think keeping the level I had from [the] US Open to now, doing that throughout the entire year is something that I really want to focus on.

“For me, I shouldn’t just be doing well on hard courts. I think I should be doing well on all surfaces. I think I’m capable of doing that. So definitely I want to try to focus on that next year.”

Osaka feels it is not only her tennis skills that have developed this year.

“I feel like I’m more  – I wouldn’t say ‘confident’ – but I’m more…I have inner peace, like zen,”  she added.

“I don’t really want to use words I don’t know. But like I can go inside myself and be peaceful.

“I think maybe in the beginning of the year I was very uncertain with what I was doing. But now I feel a bit more calm.”

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