Osaka keen to hone doubles skills for Tokyo 2020

Defending champion Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open on Thursday by defeating Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-4.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action at the US Open 2019.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

World number one Naomi Osaka is ready to join Kei Nishikori for mixed doubles at the Tokyo Olympics, but the singles champion needs to ‘practice’.

Defending champion Osaka advanced to the third round of the US Open on Thursday by defeating Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-4. After the match, the 21-year-old Japanese star was asked if she was interested in joining forces for mixed doubles at next year’s Olympics.

Osaka is excited by the prospect, but also more than a bit intimidated. “The thing is anyone that knows my doubles track record knows that I’m down,” Osaka said.

READ| Osaka overcomes in-form Linette in round two, Kobe and Kaepernick cheer her on

“I would play. I would definitely play with him. I just, I would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life.”

The pride Osaka would feel in playing for her homeland is tempered by the massive responsibility such a “Dream Team” would carry.

“Because you cannot play mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori and lose in the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo,” Osaka said.

“That would be the biggest — like, I would cry. I would actually cry for losing a doubles match. Definitely I think that would be so historic in a way. And I would love to do it. But I need to practice my doubles.” Osaka had a fan among the spectators who burst into tears at just seeing her.

ALSO READ| Serena Williams hopes for more straightforward wins

“I’d rather people don’t cry. It kind of makes me emotional, too,” Osaka said.

“It’s really crazy for me. The past year has been, like, insane. I’m really grateful and I’m honestly really humbled by it, because I know as a kid I had my favorite players. They’re kind of still playing right now. Yeah, it’s crazy.”