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Madrid Open 2024: Osaka doing her homework on clay ahead of French Open

Naomi Osaka picked up her first win on clay in two years on Wednesday and while the former world number one is adapting to the slower surface ahead of the French Open she has no plans to abandon the power game that brought her four Grand Slam titles.

Osaka, who returned to action in January after a 15-month maternity break, has enjoyed huge success thanks to her powerful baseline game but the Japanese player has struggled on clay.

Her first match of the season on the surface ended in an opening-round loss to Martina Trevisan at Rouen last week but she responded with a 6-4 6-1 win over Greet Minnen at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

“I slid a couple of times to my forehand pretty well, so I was excited about that,” Osaka told reporters. “She was hitting really good drop shots, but I think I got to a couple quite well. Movement-wise I’m feeling a lot more comfortable.

“I want to adapt and I’m trying to, but there are things that work for me and have gotten me to where I am, so I don’t want to start slicing and dicing.

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“There’s a basis to my game and I want to stick to that, but also respect the court. It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m watching a lot more matches on clay. I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

Osaka, who is now ranked 197th in the world, has never made it to a final on clay and has failed to advance beyond the third round at Roland Garros.

“I’d like to win a tournament on clay,” said Osaka, who meets Liudmila Samsonova next in Madrid.

“It would be very ironic but also hilarious if my first tournament (win of the comeback) would be on clay.”

The French Open begins on May 26.

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