« Every minute matters for me » – Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is feeling « more motivated » than ever before after welcoming daughter Shai last July.
Osaka, 26, who made her comeback in January following the birth of her first child, reaching the second round of the Brisbane International before losing a close contest to Caroline Garcia in her opening match at the Australian Open.
Those performances gave plenty of cause for encouragement with Osaka planning to play a fuller schedule than she did prior to her 15-month break.
I definitely feel like I’m a lot more motivated and every minute matters for me.
Osaka, who does not travel with her daughter, told Sky Sports Tennis: « 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.
« 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. »
Former world No 1 Osaka returns to Doha for the first time since 2018 and she faces Garcia for the second time this season in a marquee first-round encounter.
« 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, who is back working alongside famed coach Wim Fissette, admitted: « I don’t open up that easily so just to have somebody around I feel comfortable with and that already understands me saves a lot of time and also sometimes I don’t need to talk to him just to understand what I’m thinking. »
Big names in action on Sky Sports Tennis this week
WTA Qatar Open:
Emma Raducanu, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff
ATP ABN Amro Open Rotterdam:
Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev
ATP Delray Beach Open:
Dan Evans, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe
ATP Argentina Open:
Cameron Norrie, Carlos Alcaraz, Stan Wawrinka
Travel or not to travel with your child?
Marion Bartoli on Sky Sports Tennis
« Well, I think it’s very much a personal decision, » said the former Wimbledon champion. « It’s how you handle your emotions because when you’re a mother especially for the first time you’re so attached to your child and people react differently, but I think it’s a very personal choice.
« What works the best mentally and emotionally is what will work with Naomi and for her to be in a clean state of mind and focus solely on her tennis if that works best absolutely go for it 100 per cent because sometimes your emotions change throughout the year. Maybe during the US Swing she will travel with her daughter but we’re just happy to see her back on the court. »
Where is your child this week? Why are we not asking ATP players?
Laura Robson on Sky Sports Tennis
« There’s no other way to get back match fitness than playing week in, week out. One thing is we don’t ask the dads on tour what it feels like not travelling with their kids. I’m a dog mum so I can’t relate at all but I feel we’re not asking every ATP player ‘where is your child this week?’ It just seems specifically for the WTA. »
How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis
Sky Sports has confirmed a new home for tennis in the UK and Ireland, with Sky Sports Tennis on Sky and NOW, making tennis content available all day, every day for fans.
Sky Sports will broadcast more live tennis than anywhere else, bringing over 4,000 matches from more than 80 tournaments a year on the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as full coverage of the US Open, all exclusively live.
Non-Sky subscribers can stream live matches with a NOW Sports Day and Month Membership, via Sky Sports Tennis, Sky Sports Arena, and Sky Sports Mix channels.
For further access, fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and gain deeper insights from both Tours via Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app, on SkySports.com and via Sky Sports social channels.
Get Sky Sports on WhatsApp!
You can now start receiving messages and alerts for the latest breaking sports news, analysis, in-depth features and videos from our dedicated WhatsApp channel!
Find out more here
Watch the WTA and ATP Tours throughout 2024 on Sky Sports Tennis. Stream tennis and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership