Canadian youth hopes for more grand slam magic after early downfall in 2017

With last year’s tournament’s fairy tale ending, Naomi Osaka is determined to hit back in style in Melbourne, writes Archie Bland

2017 was a memorable year for Naomi Osaka. The Japanese teenager became the first woman in more than a decade to win the Australian Open junior girls’ title, winning over the Australian crowd with her unique style and honest attitude. Having risen to 15th in the world, Osaka was in excellent form as she cruised through the first four rounds, only to be knocked out in the fourth by Madison Keys.

Tennis champion Naomi Osaka says ‘I’m going to look back at this year as a learning experience’ Read more

2018 brings pressure and expectation in an era where Serena Williams is back at a grand slam and women’s tennis is at a post-Williams high point. Ahead of the first grand slam of the year, Osaka talks about her expectations for the year ahead.

Before 2017 took off I had no expectations and it definitely made me the player I am today. With that said, this year is going to be different, I’m thinking I’m going to have a lot of expectations. I’m going to be playing well and trying to do better than last year.

Before I started my pro career in 2014, I always dreamed of playing in the grand slam, and I’m still chasing my dream. I’m going to practice so hard and try to do well and make all my family proud.

I came to Australia as a little kid. I think my grandad first took me here. From here I’ve grown to be a little girl and now I’m still a little girl, so I always hope to win in Australia.

Joining Queenslander Lleyton Hewitt in playing on the back of a summer of success in the US. Thanasi Kokkinakis kept pace with his Aussie mate in qualifying for the main draw of Melbourne Park.

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