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The telegraph

How Naomi Osaka became the most formidable force in women’s tennis

If Jennifer Brady takes on Naomi Osaka in the finals in Melbourne on Saturday, she’ll face the human equivalent of a Formula 1 car, according to Osaka’s physical trainer Yutaka Nakamura. Of course, every trainer will of course address their customers – that’s just part of the job. But in Osaka’s case, the past fortnight has done a lot to support Nakamura’s claim. Always skillful on the field, she has given her game a new level of dynamism this year – especially when it comes back to serve. Starting from the crouch of a wrestler, Osaka took her first step with such strength and balance that even Serena Williams – the best server the game has ever seen – was broken four times in nine attempts in Thursday’s semifinals. “Naomi is an incredible athlete,” Nakamura told Telegraph Sport in an exclusive interview. “It’s explosive, agile and that’s why I compare it to a Formula 1 car. People say their 120 mile serve and forehand are their weapons, but I think their speed can be a weapon too. “I worked with Maria Sharapova for eight years,” added Nakamura. “Maria built her legacy in the square. But with Naomi, it’s just another level. As an athlete, but also as an activist, she has a different voice and a different mood. “After Sharapova, I thought I’d had enough of traveling the world and being with athletes,” said Nakamura, who entered Osaka’s camp in July. “I had dedicated my life to the tour and I have not seen anyone go beyond Sharapova. But when I started working with Naomi, I thought, “This is a different experience.” Naomi Osaka exclusive column: “Why I use my voice in the fight for the right thing” If it can overcome Brady – the 22nd seed from the US – At the Rod Laver Arena tomorrow, Osaka moves to four majors, one behind Sharapova on the map. But these are very different stories. Sharapova’s titles were split over nine different seasons, and her pursuit devoured most of her career. While Osaka feels like it’s just getting started. Still inexperienced on grass and clay, she has won three of the last four hard court slams. Worrying for her rivals, she is only 23 years old. She is still inexperienced on grass and clay and has won three of the last four hard court slams – a statistic that she could improve to four out of five tomorrow. Worrying for her rivals, she is only 23 years old. As a Japanese citizen who has lived in the United States for most of his life, Nakamura understands the tension between Osaka’s diverse genes. He also uses his two languages ​​to “refer to different parts of Naomi. When I try to light them up, I sometimes speak English and sometimes Japanese. I still play with it. “I think cultural diversity is a gift,” added Nakamura. “Japanese culture is very disciplined. Physically we are rather small. But Naomi has that mix, as does Tiger Woods, who once claimed he was a “Cablinasian”. Her father is from Haiti and her mother is Japanese. “It is interesting to compare her to Maria, who had the Russian attitude that I will do whatever it takes. Naomi is more introverted, but someone with a lot of inner strength. Her training ability, the intensity with which she can handle, exceeds anything I expected. “