Tokyo Olympics: Osaka's time away makes Games glory difficult, says Cash

By Sports Desk July 19, 2021

Naomi Osaka is less likely to claim Olympics glory on home soil in Tokyo because her lack of match practice will be a disadvantage, according to Pat Cash.

Japan's Osaka has not played since withdrawing from the French Open after one match at the end of May, having revealed she would skip press conferences as "people have no regard for athletes' mental health".

Prior to taking a break from the sport, four-time grand slam champion Osaka revealed she had suffered "long bouts of depression" since winning the US Open in 2018.

The 23-year-old said this month she wants "some level of privacy and empathy" from the media when she returns to action and but also discussed her excitement at playing in a "dream" Olympics.

Former Wimbledon champion Cash insists Osaka has the game to triumph but feels it is a tougher task now given her main opponents are coming off two grand slams in quick succession.

"Yeah, she said [she was taking] time out – it's hard to know if she's going to be match hardened," Cash said to Stats Perform.

"I think that's the thing about playing Wimbledon, the grass court season. Are you match toughened? 

"That goes a huge, huge way [to achieving success, and not having that] is putting yourself under pressure and especially under those circumstances if it's for a gold medal."

 

Cash feels the quality and depth of opposition in the women's draw is another obstacle in Osaka's bid for gold.

Wimbledon winner Ash Barty, beaten finalist Karolina Pliskova, former French Open champion Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka are scheduled to be among the highest-ranked competitors for Osaka at the Olympics.

Cash added: "There are a lot of good players too. Going back onto the hard court, I think that favours certain players who hit the ball hard like Sabalenka for instance.

"But there's 30 girls who really do think they can win a gold medal there and I think that's true. 

"So it's very hard to predict who will win, obviously Japan want Osaka to win, but with her being out, I think it's less likely than in a normal circumstance where she's playing matches. 

"But she's such a talent that she really could come out there and blast players away, so I wouldn't put it past her."

Related items

  • Australian Open: Nadal salutes 'amazing' Djokovic's 22nd major triumph Australian Open: Nadal salutes 'amazing' Djokovic's 22nd major triumph

    Rafael Nadal has congratulated Novak Djokovic on the "amazing achievement" of matching his record tally of 22 grand slam titles by winning the Australian Open on Sunday.

    Djokovic and Nadal share the record for the most major tournaments won by a male player after the 35-year-old beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) at Melbourne Park.

    The Serbian superstar also returned to the top of the rankings by being crowned Australian Open champion for a record-extending 10th time.

    Djokovic and Nadal will head to the French Open in May eyeing major triumph number 23.

    Spaniard Nadal, who will be out for around eight weeks due to a hip injury he aggravated during a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald in Melbourne, posted on Instagram: "Amazing achievement Nole @djokernole Many congrats to you and your team!

    "Well deserved. Enjoy Nole!"

    Swiss great Roger Federer, a winner of 20 major titles before retiring last year, also saluted Djokovic in an Instagram story on Sunday: "Incredible effort, again! Many congratulations." 

    The legendary Margaret Court leads the way with 24 major singles titles, while Serena Williams racked up 23 in her incredible career.

  • Australian Open: Federer hails Djokovic 'incredible effort' as champion matches Nadal record Australian Open: Federer hails Djokovic 'incredible effort' as champion matches Nadal record

    Roger Federer hailed Novak Djokovic's 10th Australian Open title as an "incredible" feat as the Serbian joined Rafael Nadal on 22 singles grand slams.

    Although Federer became the first man to reach 20 majors when he took the 2018 Australian Open title, the Swiss great could not add to that tally before retiring last September and has been overtaken by his two greatest rivals.

    With Nadal struggling to stay fit and build up form, it appears Djokovic is the most likely man to add to his haul and finish his career as the outright most successful man in grand slam history.

    "Incredible effort, again! Many congratulations," Federer wrote in an Instagram story, acclaiming Djokovic's straight-sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final at Melbourne Park.

    Djokovic's Professional Tennis Players Association co-founder Vasek Pospisil described the Serbian as the tennis "man of steel". Fellow ATP Tour stars Denis Shapovalov and Holger Rune also sent messages of praise on social media to Djokovic, as did Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt.

  • Australian Open: Kyrgios expects Djokovic to 'get to 28 slams easy' Australian Open: Kyrgios expects Djokovic to 'get to 28 slams easy'

    Novak Djokovic has been tipped by Nick Kyrgios to win at least 28 grand slams and become the most successful singles player in tennis history.

    The prediction came after 35-year-old Djokovic reached 22 major triumphs on Sunday by landing the Australian Open title for a 10th time.

    He now holds a share of the men's singles record with Rafael Nadal, but Djokovic made it clear after his latest big-stage success that he feels capable of collecting many more top-tier trophies.

    Kyrgios is ostensibly a rival and was beaten by the Serbian in last year's Wimbledon final, but the Australian has also become one of Djokovic's greatest admirers.

    In the wake of Djokovic beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Melbourne Park final, Kyrgios posted on Twitter: "Haha I told you. We created a monster. Well done @DjokerNole [Djokovic].

    "Sat on my couch and enjoyed the entire show. He will get to 28 slams easy."

    Kyrgios was also impressed by Djokovic emerging post-match in a jacket emblazoned with '22', a reminder of when Roger Federer had '15' on his top after winning Wimbledon in 2009 to take the outright lead in the men's grand slam race.

    Federer burst past Pete Sampras, who had previously held the record for the most men's singles majors, but Djokovic and Nadal have since overtaken the Swiss, who retired last September after 20 slam successes.

    The French Open in May and June could see an almighty tussle for the title as 14-time Roland Garros champion Nadal hunts another victory in Paris, while Djokovic bids to dethrone him and go to 23 singles slams, the same number as Serena Williams won.

    Australian Margaret Court won more singles majors than anybody, with 24, but Kyrgios sees Djokovic soon overhauling that number.

    Looking at his sartorial choice, Kyrgios saluted Djokovic's audacity, writing: "The jacket with 22 on it is elite energy, haha I love it…. NEED MORE."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.