Naomi Osaka’s ranking set to soar despite withdrawal confirmation

Kevin Palmer
Naomi Osaka smiles during a match in Doha
Naomi Osaka reacts during a match in Doha

Naomi Osaka has pulled out of next week’s WTA 1000 event in Dubai, but her ranking is still set to skyrocket over the next few weeks.

The four-time Grand Slam champion caught the eye with an impressive run to the last eight of this week’s WTA 1000 event in Doha, with that run propelling her up the WTA rankings in sensational fashion.

Osaka will leap more than 450 places in the latest WTA rankings when they are released on Monday, with her form in Doha suggesting she is ready to make a mark at the top of the game once again.

The former world number one was through to the quarter-finals at a tournament for the first time in nearly two years following her maternity break but she could not capitalise on good starts in both sets as she lost against Karolina Pliskova.

Instead, it was Pliskova, champion at the Transylvania Open last week, who continued her winning run by triumphing in two tie-breaks for a 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) victory.

After also playing in Abu Dhabi last week, it was no surprise to see Osaka pull out of next week’s tournament in Dubai and she will now turn her attention to the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments next month.

Her rise up the rankings after getting through three rounds in Doha is evidence of how quickly Osaka could be back at the top of the game and if she was to get through to the quarter-finals once again at Indian Wells, she would move up to around 160 in the rankings.

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Another good run at the Miami Open could propel the Japanese star back into the top 100, as she is making good use of her status in the game and the wild card options that will come her way as she looks to get back into contention to win major titles.

The potential to shine on hard courts in America next month means her decision to take a break now and withdraw from Dubai is understandable, with the 26-year-old insisting she is happy with her comeback so far.

“I’m feeling pretty good about myself which is a bit strange because I think I had less confidence in my last tournament,” Osaka said during an interview with Sky Sports Tennis. “It’s nice to be back and see everyone.”

Osaka is not travelling with her young daughter and admits life on the road is very different compared to what she has been used to in the last year.

“Ironically, I’m waking up a lot more and I don’t know if my brain just knows that she’s awake on the other side of the world but I definitely sleep a lot more at home,” she added.

“I think it would be great for me to have such a clean mindset but I find myself feeling really bad because I want to do better in the tournaments to make it worth it when I am gone, so I have to juggle the mindset and know that this takes a lot of time. It’s not a fast journey.

“I definitely feel like I’m a lot more motivated and every minute matters for me.”

Osaka will be unseeded once again when the draw for the Indian Wells event is made next month, but she has done enough in her comeback so far to suggest she will be a player to watch.