Naomi Osaka is still only 26 years old. Put another way, Osaka is about five months older than Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka just won her second Australian Open title and is ranked No. 2 on the WTA tour. Does she think she can win eight more Grand Slams? Probably, and so does Osaka. It also seems odd to think that Sabalenka and Osaka have won the same amount of Australian Opens so far (2).
Of course, the difference between Osaka's current form and Sabalenka's is massive. Osaka previously proved she could challenge for the No. 1 WTA ranking and multiple Slams. But even before Osaka's injuries and before her pregnancy, her play was poor. After winning the Australian Open in 2021, she has not made it past the third round of any major since.
But Osaka is battling in her comeback from being off for more than a year. She returned at the start of 2024 by participating in the Brisbane International. She won a match and then lost in the round of 32. She had a tough draw in her first match of the Australian Open and lost to Caroline Garcia in the first round in two tough sets.
Naomi Osaka still has the right mentality to succeed at a high level
While she doesn't now look capable of winning any titles, we know she physically can because we have seen her do it. And Osaka is not giving up on herself either. She stated in her return to the tour that she thinks she can win eight more Grand Slams, but she had a great reason for having this goal: Even if she reaches a bit of it, she would still have been successful.
Though she got bounced out of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open early this week - she lost to Danielle Collins 5-7 0-6 - she told the press before the event, "I’m always the type of person that would rather set really high goals and maybe I’ll do only 25 percent of that but the 25 percent is still really amazing. I don’t think that I would have come back and be like, ‘Oh my goal is to get to the quarterfinal of a slam’, which is still really good but that’s not why I’m spending time away from (her daughter)."
Whether Naomi Osaka can get back to winning major titles is unknown, of course. But she at least has the right mentality to get there. Plus, Osaka winning Grand Slams is simply good for the player and tennis in general.