Osaka On Profitable Contact
By Richard Pagliaro
A familiar face inspired with a welcoming smile Naomi Osaka Rise to her second Australian Open title.
If you've seen Osaka's pre-match walk through the AO's tunnel tunnel en route to Rod Laver Arena, you've seen her tap on the oversized poster of her younger self without pausing.
More: Osaka beats Brady for the fourth Grand Slam Crown
After beating Jennifer Brady 6-4-3 in the AO final, Osaka said touching the image of her younger self was both superstitious ritual and her way of drawing power from her past.
"I would say it's definitely a lucky charm," said Osaka after their 21st straight win. "When I walk through the tunnel and see my name on the board, I just feel really inspired. I want to add another year to this board.
"I think if I just touch it I feel like I'm getting more strength. Maybe it's a little more superstition."
The four-time Grand Slam champion is now in the immediate vicinity of the five-time great champions Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova on the Grand Slam list of all time.
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Hall of Famer Mats Wilander predicts the 23-year-old Osaka can win 10 or more Grand Slam titles.
Osaka says she is flattered by the belief of another slam champion but not in love with the numbers game.
"Right now, I'm trying to do five. You know, after five, I'd think about dividing the ten, so maybe seven or eight," Osaka said. "I like doing things that aren't a big picture. For me, I like living in the moment. You know, it's an honor that he said that of course. But I don't want to deal with pressures and expectations complain .
"I know the people I play against are the best players in the world and when my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come."
"But right now I can only control what I can control and that works hard and gives me opportunities."
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When asked about her ultimate goal, Osaka says she strives for perseverance to touch life.
"I think the biggest thing I want to do is – this is going to sound really weird, but hopefully I'll play long enough to play a girl who said I was her favorite player or something," said Osaka. "To me, this is the coolest thing that could ever happen to me. I think I feel like I'm watching my favorite players. Unfortunately, I couldn't play Li Na, but yeah, I just think that's how the sport is progressing."
Photo credit: Australian Open Facebook