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Osaka: First-round scare was the most nervous I've ever been on court

The 21-year-old has attributed her sloppy display on Tuesday to the kind of nerves she has not yet experienced in her career.

Naomi Osaka in action during the first round of the French Open
Naomi Osaka in action during the first round of the French Open

NAOMI OSAKA SAYS her first-round win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the French Open was the most nervous she has ever felt during a match.

Osaka is looking to win three successive grand slams, having prevailed at the US and Australian Opens either side of the turn of the year.

The world number one got off to a woeful start against Schmiedlova, losing the first set 6-0 in just 20 minutes, but bounced back to win the second after a tie-break and then sealed her progression to the next round by racing through a one-sided decider.

Osaka was far from her fluid best and attributes her sloppy performance to the kind of nerves she has not previously experienced so far in her fledgling career.

“For me, I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match,” she told a media conference.

I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.

“Today was weird because usually the nerves go away, but they kind of stayed the entire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower.”

When pressed on why she felt so nervous, Osaka responded: “I can give you logical reasons, but I’m not really a logical person. So, it might be something else.

“Logical reasons are that it was my first time playing a grand slam as world number one.

I won the last two so I kind of want to win this one really bad. I have never played on Court Philippe-Chatrier before – this was my first time. And I kind of feel like I’m having the thought of wanting to prove myself again.”

French Open - Naomi Osaka on Day 3 Osaka struggled through today's first round match at the French Open. Source: Liewig Christian/ABACA

Osaka will face world number 43 Victoria Azarenka in the next round after the Belarusian beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Osaka cruised past Azarenka in Rome last year but the Japanese expects a tougher test this time around.

“She’s been playing really well recently, and there is no way that it’s going to be a similar match to the one I played her in Rome last year,” she said.

“I’m expecting one of the hardest matches of the year.”

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