‘The sky’s the limit’ for Naomi Osaka to dominate on clay and grass too, says Martina Navratilova

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka still has to learn a thing or two about playing on clay and grass, but Martina Navratilova is convinced the four-time Grand Slam winner can become a powerful player on those surfaces.

The 23-year-old has been the dominant hard-court player since making her breakthrough in 2018, winning two US Open and two Australian Open trophies. In fact, her seven titles to date have come on the surface.

The only way is up for Naomi Osaka as she looks to replicate hard-court success on clay and grass

However, many believe she has what it takes to also win Roland Garros and Wimbledon with some minor adjustments to her game on clay and grass, and 18-time Grand Slam winner Navratilova is one of them.

“The sky’s the limit,” she told Tennis Now. “It’s just a matter of putting in the time and getting more instinctual on the surface, that’s all. Especially grass, because you only have that one tournament.

“I think maybe she needs to get on the grass during the year, not just before Wimbledon, to get more comfortable with it, so it’s like coming home.

“We used to have two grass court seasons, in Australia and at Wimbledon in Europe. You had like two months on the surface, so six weeks. Now they have two to three weeks on it. It shows up. They’re not that comfortable on it. She just needs the mileage on it. Game-wise there’s not that much of an adjustment to make.”

Mastering the art of sliding on the red dirt is often a key feature of excellent clay-court players, but Navratilova feels you can win at Roland Garros even if you are not a confident slider.

“I don’t see Naomi being that confident with her sliding,” she said. “But then Andre Agassi won the French Open without sliding. It can be done. But it just makes life easier when you slide and you’re comfortable with timing with your strokes.”

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