MADRID, Spain — Former No.1 Naomi Osaka brushed off any long-term injury concerns after her 6-3, 6-1 loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.
After a strong opening performance to defeat Anastasia Potapova 6-3, 6-1 in the first round, Osaka sported a heavily taped lower leg as she took the court against Sorribes Tormo.
“I felt something in my achilles after my last match, and I wasn’t really able to hit yesterday because I wanted it to go away,” Osaka told reporters after the match. “Honestly, I probably should have been a bit smarter about the whole way that I went through everything.
“I felt it again today and I tried to take an ibuprofen [during the match] but I probably should have taken it way sooner than I did. But, yeah, I’m sure it will be fine.”
Osaka said she experienced similar pain in her achilles after the Miami Open a few years ago and will get an ultrasound to better understand the issue.
“I can’t imagine that it will be a huge problem unless something significant happens, but I think for right now, just learning how to move forward with everything.”
Osaka taking tips from Nadal as she unveils new clay-court approach
Having seen Osaka struggle with her movement, Sorribes Tormo smartly made the match as physical as possible. But Osaka vowed to use the match as a learning experience.
“I don’t want to retire because of injury again in my career,” Osaka said. “Because sometimes I think about the Michael Jordan ‘Flu Game’, and I’m like, I should be like that too.
“There is always caution in your mind, but for me, I want to see what happens if I push through it. I want to know the type of — it’s not relief, but the feeling that I would have if I were to ever be injured quite badly and still be able to push through the match.”
Despite her struggles from the baseline, Osaka unveiled an improved net game over her two matches in Madrid, particularly on her backhand side. In the past, Osaka has relied on a two-handed backhand volley, but in Madrid, she was comfortably punching balls away with one hand.
“So I have been really trying to focus on my net game because I’m going to play mixed doubles in Wimbledon,” Osaka revealed. “I know, shocking, right? I’m shocked too.
“I really don’t want to disappoint the person I’m playing with, because whenever I play doubles I always say, ‘Sorry.’ I’m going to try not to be a liability.”
Osaka was coy when asked to reveal her doubles partner.
“If this person sees it and they want to like respond, they can do that, but I don’t know, isn’t it more fun to kind of see it when it’s around the time? I’m pretty sure if you wanted to guess you could guess who it is.”
Osaka’s next tournament is scheduled to be the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, which begins on May 9.