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Shy Osaka working to be more mature

AFP  |  Melbourne 

winner admitted on Saturday that she was naturally shy and said one of her key goals in the off-season had been to work on her confidence and become more mature.

The likable 21-year-old Japanese was catapulted into the global spotlight when she won the last year, beating Serena Williams, whose tantrum at the umpire in the final almost overshadowed her achievement.

The breakthrough made her a new standard bearer for in her homeland, and the next generation of women, and she is working hard on living up to the hype.

While focusing on her game during the off-season, she has also been concentrating on better dealing with the off-court responsibilities that come with being a major winner.

"For me one of my biggest goals is to be more mature, like to mature as a person," she said ahead of her opening round clash at against Poland's next week.

"And I feel like in a way I am, but in other parts I'm very, like, three years old mentality, you know? I feel like just levelling that out is one of my biggest goals I had during the off-season."

Winning in Flushing Meadows has meant now has to do far more media, and her confidence in that department is growing.

But she admits to still struggling in one-on-one situations.

"I mean, in press I feel comfortable because I'm being asked questions," she said, when it was noted that she seems more relaxed in

"But you know when you have to do small talk, like, 'hello, how are you?', after that, I don't know what to do." Asked what she does in those situations, she replied: "I go, 'uhm, okay', then I walk away.

"But, yeah, I mean, I feel like I'm more comfortable talking to people," she added.

"I've sort of been put in the position that I have to. It's not something I can avoid any more."

- Trimmed down -


heads into the Australian Open, often dubbed the Asia-Pacific Grand Slam, seeded four and carrying the hopes of on her shoulders.

She said the locker room generally saw Williams as the favourite to win an eighth crown and claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

"But there's a group of players that I think everyone thinks is very difficult to play against, especially in Grand Slams," she said.

Asked to name who, she replied with a smile: "For me, you're going to have to ask someone else because I don't talk to people, so I wouldn't know what they're thinking."

Osaka began her season by making the semi-finals of the Brisbane International, where she lost to Lesia Tsurenko, blaming a lack of focus for failing to get the job done.

It is a trimmed down Osaka this year, with shedding a few pounds another target during the off-season to help with her mobility around the court.

"About the losing weight question, it's because I want to be faster. It's not for looks or anything," she said.

"I feel like it helps me play better, I get to the ball faster, and I'm not as sore.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, January 12 2019. 10:50 IST