Osaka credits increasing comfort on clay for comeback win in Madrid
The Japanese superstar defeated Doi 7-5 6-2 in her first round match, coming back from an early break to improve to 3-0 against the World No.79. This would be Osaka's first match on red clay since her third-round loss at Roland Garros in 2019, as she opted to skip the surface last year due to a hamstring injury.
"When I was playing on clay that year, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all," said Osaka. "The two matches that I lost, it was more mental than it was physical. Like, I didn't feel uncomfortable sliding or I didn't feel that tired. So I'm actually really excited to get that mindset back and to start feeling more comfortable on clay."
The reigning US and Australian Open champion has yet to reach a WTA final on clay, and has set that as a goal for the 2021 season.
"I try to play my natural way," said Osaka. "I would say if I start thinking about grinding too much, I become a bit of a pusher and it's not really good for me. Of course you want to adapt to the clay and do things that are beneficial, but hopefully I don't change too much."
The World No.2 will face Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova in the second round, as the Czech defeated Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 earlier in the day.