"If Naomi serves well, and doesn't go for too much, and stays within herself, she's a threat on any surface," her coach Sascha Bajin told wtatennis.com. "It was a beautiful start to the season, but Naomi's not satisfied. She's still trying to improve - and especially on clay, there's a lot that she can improve.”
A keen computer gamer in spare time, Osaka uses apt terminology to describe tennis as a “mission”. She refuses to talk up Roland Garros title chances, but is certainly a legitimate chance for a deep run with defending champion Jelena Ostapenko and Venus Williams falling from her quarter.
The mission is on ...
Kasatkina catching the eye
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Kasatkina has an absorbing all-court artillery which is reaping rewards as she moves towards the top of the sport.
The Russian has notched victories against all four reigning Grand Slam champions, including over Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open, Caroline Wozniacki on home soil in St. Petersburg and Garbine Muguruza en route to the final in Dubai. A victory against Sloane Stephens at Indian Wells - where she eventually fell to Osaka in the final - completed the quartet and demonstrated the Russian’s prime-time billing.
The world No.14 is one of the most ferocious shotmakers on Tour but also possesses enviable variety and smart strategy. And, opening her French Open account on Monday, Kasatkina demonstrated her development against an opponent, Kaia Kanepi, who has troubled her in the past.