They are playing the ASB Classic in Auckland, and if the early hype is any indication, Serena Williams had better watch out for WTA Newcomer of the Year Naomi Osaka, provided that is, that Osaka can get beyond her Auckland debut against Germany’s Annika Beck.
Osaka’s rise through the WTA rankings last year has been something betwixt meteoric and cometary, as she rose from 200th at the beginning of 2016 up to 40th. She reached a final in Tokyo and quarterfinals in three other tournaments.
She seems to play with a nothing-to-lose sort of attitude, because in her eyes, at least, tennis truly is just a game.
Osaka was born in Japan, grew up in the United States and seems to embody the Rastafarian philosophy of her Haiti-born father.
Anyone who has any inkling whatsoever of the conflicting pulls she must have felt through the combination of Japanese and Caribbean cultures can appreciate her laissez-faire approach to life with her obsessive compulsion to seek perfection, which she is seemingly adapting to quite well, thank you very much.
The Japanese, who appreciate success in any form, is a big hit in that country, where she has been accepted as a flag bearer for the nation.