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Osaka finds clay comfort at Madrid Open; Raducanu falters amidst fatigue

Posted : 25 April 2024

Naomi Osaka secured her first clay-court victory since 2022 at the Madrid Open on Wednesday, expressing newfound comfort on the surface. Growing up playing predominantly on hard courts in the US, the Japanese former world No. 1 has faced challenges adapting to clay over the years. However, her 6-4, 6-1 win over Greet Minnen marked a promising start, setting up a second-round clash with 15th seed Liudmila Samsonova.


Osaka reflected on her evolving relationship with clay, acknowledging past struggles while embracing its unique qualities. She drew inspiration from players who excel on the surface, aiming to make the most of her abilities without setting unrealistic expectations. Despite setbacks in converting early break points, Osaka's confidence grew as she navigated her way to victory, showcasing improved movement and shot-making abilities.


With the Olympic Games set to take place on clay at Roland Garros this summer, Osaka is fueled by the prospect of competing on the grand stage. Meanwhile, fellow former US Open champion Emma Raducanu faced disappointment with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Maria Lourdes Carle, citing mental and physical fatigue. Despite her struggles, other players like Sloane Stephens continued their clay-court success, while home favorite Paula Badosa endured an early exit amidst ongoing back pain.


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