'Really cool': Naomi Osaka's Rafa Nadal confession after clay return

Naomi Osaka (pictured left) smiling after her win at Manolo Santana Open and (pictured right) Rafa Nadal smiling during practice.
Naomi Osaka (pictured left) admitted she has been taking notice of Rafa Nadal's (pictured right) tactics on clay as she started her clay season in 2022. (Getty Images)

Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has revealed she has taken inspiration from Rafa Nadal following her first win on clay in 2022.

Osaka returned to the clay court for the first time in 2022 after receiving a wildcard to the Madrid Open Open.

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And the Japanese superstar was in imperious form as she defeated Anastasia Potapova 6-3, 6-1.

Before the tournament, Osaka admitted she had 'stolen' a trick or two from the 'King of Clay' Nadal as she started her clay court campaign.

And following her match against Potapova, Osaka was pressed on what details she may have adopted from the 13-time Roland Garros winner.

Osaka admitted she had watched footage of Nadal, and WTA World No.1 Iga Swiatek, about adjustments on her least favourite surface.

"Watching Nadal, Iga does it too, which I think is really cool, just like knowing when to hit a forehand instead of a backhand and knowing when to run around," Osaka said in her post-match press conference.

"I think a lot of really good clay court players do that, so I'm trying to learn how to do that as well."

Naomi Osaka adopts Nadal approach

Osaka is clearly keen on adding a Roland Garros triumph to her two US Open and Australian Open trophies.

Tennis reporter Reem Abulleil pointed out Osaka adopted a Nadal-type tactic on match point against Potapova.

Osaka stood out wide for the second serve, before firing back a powerful forehand to give herself the upper hand in the rally.

The Japanese superstar will face Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the next round.

Most recently, Nadal announced he would make his return from a rib injury at the Madrid Open.

The Spaniard started 2022 on fire having won the Australian Open, Miami Open and reaching the Indian Wells final.

However, the Spaniard was clearly in discomfort in his final few matches back in February before announcing he would take 4-6 weeks out due to the injury.

Having missed Monte Carlo and the Barcelona Open, Nadal said he couldn't miss the opportunity to play in his home nation in the twilight of his career.

"Despite arriving just before the tournament and preparation being difficult, I really want to play at home since the opportunities are few," he said in a statement.

"So I'm going to try to do it in the best way I can. See you in Madrid."

Nadal received a warm welcome when returning to the practice courts in Madrid.

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