Athlete Profile: Naomi Osaka
Weight: 152 lbs.
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Singles Ranking: 22
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Coach: Sascha Bajin
Career Titles: 1
Residence: Boca Raton, Florida, United States of America
Her career is still young, but Naomi Osaka charges the courts like a veteran pro, with an aggressive forehand, a strong backhand, and a powerful serve. She is registered with the Japan Tennis Association and makes the country proud with exceptional playing that led to the No. 22 world ranking on March 18, 2018.
Although she was born in Japan and represents the country in professional tennis, Osaka has lived in the United States since she was three years old, along with her Haitian father, Japanese mother, and sister Mari, who is also a tennis pro.
Osaka’s first WTA main draw match was at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic, where she received entry from victories in the qualifying tournament. She then defeated 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, but left the tournament after a loss to Andrea Petkovic.
In 2015, Osaka won the Rising Stars Invitational exhibition tournament during the WTA Finals. In 2016, she had her Grand Slam debut, entering the Australian Open as a qualifier and going on to win the first two rounds. She also reached the third round of both the French Open and the US Open that year, but was unable to participate in Wimbledon due to an injury.
At the 2016 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Osaka made it to her first WTA final match, losing to Caroline Wozniacki, but sliding into the Top 50 in the WTA rankings, and receiving the honor of Newcomer of the Year at the 2016 WTA Awards.
Her notable 2017 victories included defeating defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round of the US Open and Venus Williams in the second round of the Hong Kong Open.
Osaka reached a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time at the 2018 Australian Open. She then won her first Premier Mandatory title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, beating Maria Sharapova in the first round and Daria Kasatkina in the last.
Osaka went on to beat her idol, Serena Williams, in straight sets in the 2018 Miami Open. She ultimately exited the tournament with a loss to Elina Svitolina, but she has already made her mark on 2018 and leaves no doubt that she is one to watch as the year rolls on.
In March 2018, Osaka was finally drawn against her idol, former world No. 1 Serena Williams, in the first round of the Miami Open. Osaka, ranked world No. 22, was unseeded as was Williams, who was playing her fourth comeback match following the birth of her first child. Osaka won in straight sets.