Emma Navarro dispatches Naomi Osaka with ease at Wimbledon

Osaka is a former Grand Slam champion but she was no match against Navarro at Wimbledon.
Emma Navarro at Wimbledon 2024
Emma Navarro at Wimbledon 2024 / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Taking time off from professional tennis takes a toll. Unlike driving a car - you don't drive for a bit, you get back in the car, turn the key and boom!; you're off again - restarting a tennis career is nearly impossible. The players are likely better than one could ever remember. Still, as great as Naomi Osaka once was, one might wonder what happened.

She last won a Grand Slam in 2021 at the Australian Open. Due to various injuries, mental fatigue, and pregnancy, Osaka hasn't been close to the same player that won four majors. In fact, watching her now, if one did not know her history one might assume she never played at a high level. How long will it take for the 26-year-old player to regain her previous greatness is unknown. She might never be close to that form again.

We saw a flash of greatness from Osaka in her early-round match at the French Open against Iga Swiatek. Swiatek simply does not lose anymore in Paris, but Osaka took her to three sets and had match point. She could not finish.

Emma Navarro continues career-year against Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon

Against Emma Navarro in the second round of Wimbledon, Osaka looked like an also-ran. She overhit many of her shots, and she could only try to win with pure power. She had zero touch and seemingly little understanding of how to win the match. Osaka used to be great because she had elite talent, but she also knew how to adjust when her opponent took the match to her. That time has passed.

Navarro will never have the power that Osaka still has. She does not need to. She understands her strengths and weaknesses better than Osaka. Instead of trying to power past the Japanese player, Navarro played with calm and patience and took advantage of what was given her. If Osaka was going to try to smack everything too hard, Navarro was going to set her up with shots to create unforced errors.

Next. Some older players had great starts at Wimbledon 2024. Some older players had great starts at Wimbledon 2024. dark

Navarro used her athleticism and excellent defense to keep balls in play. The longer a rally went on, the more it favored the American. Even on first serves, while Osaka got three aces and had the more powerful weapon, Navarro won 85 percent of her first serves. Her game was all about placement, not overpowering pace. It did not need to be.

Wimbledon favors big-hitters. Osaka struggles on grass courts, though. Navarro is not the biggest hitter, but she can chase down balls with ease. She isn't likely to win the Grand Slam though she is having the best year of her career so far with a record of 36-15 with one title, but the way Osaka performed in the 4-6 1-6, she is never going to come close to winning a major ever again.

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