MELBOURNE: Japanese teen Naomi Osaka Saturday said her Australian Open thrashing by Victoria Azarenka was a great learning experience — to the extent that she was glad she lost.
Osaka, 18, turned heads in her debut Grand Slam, beating 18th seed Elina Svitolina in the second round to win plaudits from players including world number one Serena Williams and compatriot Kei Nishikori.
But she was out of her depth against two-time Melbourne Park champion Azarenka, who stormed through the third round match on Rod Laver Arena 6-1, 6-1.
“I guess this match, because it’s like I’m learning,” she said, when asked what she would remember most about her first Grand Slam experience.
“Honestly, I’m a bit glad she beat me like this because I have so much more to learn and I can take this as a good experience.”
Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, came through qualifying to make the main draw and she said that while she wanted to win, the heavy loss was a better learning experience.
“I mean, I’m glad I lost. I would also be very happy if I won. I say that, because if I were just to have beaten her I don’t think I would learn as much. You know what I mean?”
The accomplished Belarusian’s powerful serve, dominant baseline game and clever net play was too much for Osaka, who admitted she was too defensive and didn’t attack when she could.
Asked what was the key lesson learned from the encounter, she replied: “Probably just learn how to enjoy the moment, because I was tense from the very start. “Like being able to adjust to how she was playing. Not let so many things bother me.”
Currently ranked 127 in the world, Osaka, who is based in Florida, said her plan was to head to Japan and work on cracking the top 50.
“I changed it from 100 to 50 because I’m pretty sure I can do it,” she said.