World No 1 Naomi Osaka is ‘just living my dreams right now’
All the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place for Naomi Osaka as she not only picked up her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but also secured the world No 1 ranking.
Just over a year ago not many casual tennis fans would have known who Osaka was, but now she is the toast of the tennis world after winning the US Open and Australian Open in the space of a few months.
Although she admits it feels like a “very strange moment”, she is living the dream after beating Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-4 at Melbourne Park.
“For me, Grand Slams is something you dream about playing as a kid,” she said during her press conference. “I don’t ever want to waste this opportunity. So those are the biggest motivating factors for me.”
She continued: “I had dreams that I would win this tournament. Every time I have a dream, somehow I accomplish it, I still feel like it’s a very strange moment. Like, I feel like I’m living right now, but it’s not necessarily real, if that makes sense.”
At the start of the 2018 season Osaka was still ranked outside the top 50 and hadn’t made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam yet, but now she finds herself top of the world rankings.
The 21-year-old says it hasn’t sunk in yet that she is the No 1-ranked player in the world, adding that her main goal was to win the Australian Open.
“I guess looking from the outside, from your guys’ view, it does [feel quick],” she said. “For me, every practice and every match that I’ve played, it feels like the year is short and long at the same time.
“But I’m aware of all the work that I put in. I know all the sacrifices that every player does to stay at this level. I mean, in my opinion, it didn’t feel fast. It felt kind of long.
She added: “I feel like [the No.1 ranking] hasn’t really sunk in. Maybe in the next tournament I play, if I see the No 1 next to my name, I’ll feel something. But for now, I’m more happy that I won this trophy.
“People were talking about being No 1 if I win this tournament. I was able to accomplish that. But the ranking was never my real goal, it was just to win this tournament.
“I do think I did have a lot of stress, but only in certain moments. Then it went away. It’s usually during all the three-set matches I played this time. But I feel like I was able to handle it well, sort of relax my mind so I wouldn’t overthink.
“I think as a whole, this tournament was very eye-opening for me. I had a lot of matches that were very tough and I was behind in some of them. I think it showed me that I could win matches from behind, just on willpower alone.”
More from Tennis365:
Cameron Norrie’s impressive year continues with a win against Nick Kyrgios
The Briton needed less than a hour to dispatch his Australian opponent with a clinical 6-1 6-4 win.
Novak Djokovic’s golden Grand Slam dream ends in shuddering fashion at the Olympics
Novak Djokovic’s dreams of a Golden Slam are over after a defeat by Alexander Zverev.
WATCH: King Richard trailer starring Will Smith as Serena Williams says ‘this should be good’
Nearly time to grab the popcorn for King Richard.
Novak Djokovic closing in on gold at Tokyo Olympics as he admits his ‘level of tennis is getting better and better’
“Best performance of the tournament,” says Djokovic.
Marketa Vondrousova’s dream turns into a reality as she stuns Elina Svitolina to reach final at Olympics
Marketa Vondrousova assured of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
‘To have the medal for me is the greatest thing,’ says Belinda Bencic after reaching Olympic singles final
Already assured of one Olympic medal, Belinda Bencic gunning for a second.
‘Pressure is a privilege,’ says Novak Djokovic as he explains why the noise ‘won’t wear me down’
“Without pressure there is no professional sport,” says Novak Djokovic.
Fabio Fognini apologies for shouting homophobic slur during Olympics defeat, says ‘heat went to my head’
“I apologise for the nonsense that came out of me,” wrote Fabio Fognini.
Andy Murray’s emotional message as his Olympic dream dies – now what happens next?
“I feel crushed after today’s loss. Sport can be brutal,” wrote Andy Murray.
Paula Badosa leaves court in a wheelchair while Elena Svitolina headlines Olympic semi-final line-up
Final four confirmed for the Tokyo Games.