Naomi Osaka set for incredible rankings leap after big twist at Qatar Open

Kevin Palmer
Naomi Osaka 2024
Naomi Osaka reacts celebrates in Brisbane

Naomi Osaka is currently at No 747 in the WTA rankings, but all that is set to change after her run to the Qatar Open quarter-finals.

The four-time Grand Slam champion is on the comeback trail after taking time away from the court to give birth to her first child and she is starting from scratch with her ranking.

While she can use a protected ranking that was set when she stepped away from the game to enter some tournaments this year, Osaka needs to make some progress in big tournaments to make quick leaps up the WTA list.

That has now happened as the Japanese star progressed to the last eight of the Qatar Open event, where 1,000 ranking points are up for grabs for the winner.

Osaka got a fortunate break when last-16 opponent Lesia Tsurenko was forced to withdraw, giving Osaka a first quarter-final appearance since she made her comeback to tennis last month.

After a poor display in Abu Dhabi last week, Osaka has impressed in Doha with wins against Caroline Garcia and Petra Martic, with the ranking points she has collected so far this week rocketing her up the WTA rankings.

Osaka has leapt a stunning 461 placed in the live rankings list and is up to No 286 in the provisional list, with a quarter-final win in Doha set to propel her into the top 200.

If Osaka went on to win the tournament in Doha, she would move up to around No 65 in the rankings next week.

READ MORE: Former British No 1 leaps to Emma Raducanu’s defence amid schedule debate

“I definitely feel like I’m a lot more motivated and every minute matters for me,” Osaka told Sky Sports earlier this week.

“I’m feeling pretty good about myself which is a bit strange because I think I had less confidence in my last tournament but it’s really nice to be back and playing the best players in the world,” she said.

“I was changing my return a little bit so it’s a bit tough to play a match and not feel comfortable with what you’re doing.

“You kind of want to revert back to your old style but I think for me the biggest thing is being confident in myself and knowing that I don’t have to go for winners when I don’t need to and trusting myself a lot.”

Osaka’s remarkable rankings leap highlights what can happen for players making a comeback and playing in high-level events.

The 215 ranking points Osaka has already collected this week are not far off the equivalent of winning a lower-ranking event and this explains why players on the comeback trail enter higher-level events against top class opponents.

There has been a debate over whether Britain’s Emma Raducanu should play lower-level events after her first round exit in Doha this week, but former British No 1 Laura Robson told Tennis365 she would follow the same plan as the 2021 US Open champion.

“It’s not really going for the jackpot playing these events,” insisted Robson.

“She played very well in some of the matches she had this year and she clearly feels her level is good enough to challenge at these tournaments, so why not go for them?

“If it doesn’t go well, then you can go back to the drawing board and maybe enter a few lower tournaments.

“If the opportunities are there to pick up very big points without too many match wins without winning too many matches, you have to take them.

“The way the points work, you could win two WTA 250 tournaments or have a run at a WTA 1000 event and you basically get the same number of points for your ranking. If I were here, I’d be playing the same tournaments.”