Naomi Osaka backed to ‘go right back in the top 10’ by renowned coach

Naomi Osaka in action

Naomi Osaka will return to the top 10 next year when she resumes her career after the birth of her daughter, according to esteemed coach Rick Macci.

Macci highlighted his former student Jennifer Capriati as an example of a player who achieved huge success on a comeback to the tour following a lengthy absence.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka gave birth to her daughter Shai in July. Two weeks later, footage showed the 25-year-old was already training to prepare for her return to action.

The former world No 1, currently ranked 596th, last competed at the WTA tournament in Tokyo in September 2022.

Osaka is a two-time champion at both the Australian Open (2019 and 2021) and US Open (2018 and 2020). She has won seven WTA titles overall, including two WTA 1000 events.

Macci, 68, has predicted a swift climb back to the top of the women’s game for the Japanese star when she makes her comeback.

“I know when you disappear from the pro tour and you go have a baby, everybody writes you off. But listen, Osaka has four Grand Slams in her back pocket, you know, and she has firepower. She has a great serve, she’s solid off the ground, great athlete, good calming skills,” said the American in an interview with Tennis Infinity.

“I bring this up all the time and it reminds me of one of my favourite students of all time. Jennifer Capriati. You know, she disappeared off the face of the earth, went off the tour, okay? Even saw it kind of in the movie King Richard.

“I wish they’d have presented it the way it really happened. ‘Cause she not only came back on the tour. Not to number 50 or 30 or 20 or 10. Number one, three Grand Slams, Olympic gold, big contract from Fila. She came all the way back.

“So listen, you don’t lose the talent and you don’t lose the ability. You lose a little bit of the confidence and the fitness. So listen, it’s not gonna happen this year, but I’m predicting by the end of 2024.

“If she’s hungry, because I know she believes, Osaka will go right back in the top 10 because she has enough firepower to play through you.”

As well as Capriati, Macci has coached many players, including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Mary Pierce and Sofia Kenin.

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