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Date : 09 Oct 2018
Hong Kong, October 9, 2018: Her face is plastered all over subway trains in Japan, and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will want to keep it that way as she sets her sights on Olympic glory at Tokyo 2020.
Osaka, who pulled out of this week’s Hong Kong Open with a back injury, told media that while she was excited about the Olympics being staged in Tokyo and is aiming for gold, her more immediate aim was to make history by becoming the Japanese woman to earn the highest ranking in the world.
The fast-rising tennis star who turns 21 on Sunday became only the second Japanese woman to reach number four in the world since Kimiko Date in 1995. Osaka began 2018 ranked 68th but her US Open victory at Flushing Meadow catapulted her into the top 10. She wants more.
“I know that Kimiko was number four so that means we’re tied,” Osaka was quoted by news agency AFP. “For me the year’s not done yet so I want to keep playing and see how far I can get.”
A strong performance at the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month could result in Japan’s first Grand Slam champion finishing her standout season as the top placed Japanese woman of all time.
Looking further ahead the Osaka-born dual US-Japanese national, who represents the country of her birth in tennis, has her eyes on the Tokyo Olympics.
“Everyone is really excited in Japan about the Olympics. I know all the Japanese players want to do well and of course I share that feeling.”
She added: “I really want to experience the moment and at the same time I know I want to win the gold medal – everyone who plays in the Olympics wants to win gold – so that would be my aim. But I want to have fun too.”
Back-to-back tournaments in Tokyo and Beijing since clinching the US Open in New York beating 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams - who was involved in an explosive row with the chair umpire – has meant Osaka is still trying to come to grips with her new-found status.
“I keep moving. I haven’t had the mental space to think I just win the US Open,” said Osaka. She recently tweeted that it felt “surreal” to see her face all over subway trains in Japan where she is a brand ambassador for Nissan.
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