Tokyo: Following a whirlwind few years, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka can be forgiven for taking time to reset and relax as the sporting world goes on an indefinite pause due to the coronavirus crisis.
Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam winner who also became the first Japanese player to reach world number one, had been preparing for another action-packed summer including her Olympics debut on home soil at Tokyo 2020.
Instead, with the Olympics postponed until 2021, the 22-year old finds herself in quarantine at her home in Los Angeles where she is making the most of her new-found downtime.
“I know that the quarantine initiatives are so important so I am using this time to really be a homebody, something a tennis player on tour can never be,” Osaka told Reuters via email.
“I’ve been playing tennis almost every day for as long as I can remember, so it has been an opportunity to take stock and reset. I have been cooking a lot, working out to stay fit, reading and keeping in touch with my sister and family.”
Although unable to get on the court with her coach Wim Fissette, Osaka has been finding novel ways to stay fit.
“I haven’t been able to play tennis, however, I have been speaking to my coach and fitness trainer daily and finding ways to keep my body fit and ready for when the tour resumes,” she said.
“It’s a new normal but I am adjusting.”
Osaka has kept her competitive juices flowing by preparing for Sunday’s Mario Tennis Aces tournament, where she will compete with the likes of real-life rivals Serena and Venus Williams and compatriot Kei Nishikori in the virtual competition.
Osaka admits she is a bit of a gamer and fancies her chances alongside doubles partner, model Hailey Bieber.
“My sister and I played a lot growing up and yes I still play and even more so now during the quarantine. I can say yes, I am a gamer,” said Osaka.
“I had actually started playing much less in recent months as I was getting into new hobbies, like fashion, photography and spending more time outdoors with friends … But since quarantine I’m back into my old habits.
“Gaming is awesome but it is nice to have a balance.”