20-year-old Naomi Osaka shocked the tennis world this weekend by taking the title in Indian Wells, defeating fellow 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2 in just 70 minutes in the final. Apart from being broken in the very first game of the match, the Japanese youngster dominated, giving nothing but consistency and hard hitting, which was far too much for her opponent to handle. This was only Osaka’s second final of her career, and her first ever title.
A tough draw with no effect
Osaka had a tough draw on paper, but only lost one set (to Maria Sakkari in the fourth round) en route to the title.
She dispatched the likes of Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, and most notably defeated World #1 Simona Halep 6-3 6-0 in the semifinals.
Big changes in a relatively short time
Osaka’s gamestyle is based on her big serve and groundstrokes, which can be spectacular to watch, but also wild at the same time. This took her to 40th in the world at just 18, but some changes were needed to take her game to the next level. Unforced errors piled up quickly when things got tight, and negativity got the better of her in a lot of situations.
A change in the name of Sascha Bajin appeared as part of her team in the 2017 off-season. Bajin has worked with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Caroline Wozniacki in the past, therefore comes with a wealth of experience in big moments at the pinnacle of the game and knows what it takes to be there.
— WTA (@WTA) March 18, 2018
Bajin’s experience has been paying off so far in 2018. Osaka has much better point construction, and knows when to pull the trigger instead of going for near impossible winners. She is also more sure of herself and appears more confident, probably one of the most important improvements for going forward in the long term. Bajin specialises in staying positive and fighting for every point, which is Osaka’s primary motive to making her game effective.
Due to the renewed tactics and growing confidence, Osaka has a much better look to her chances of fulfilling her potential. Since her first ever title is a Premier Mandatory, she is definitely on the right track.
Embed from Getty Images