It's been quite some time since fans last saw the 25-year-old on the tennis court as her last professional match was played in September 2022. In January this year, Osaka announced her pregnancy and it became obvious that it will take a few more months before she will return to the competition.
But recently, she stated that she plans to return at the 2024 Australian Open, a tournament that she won in 2019 and 2021, marking her last triumph on the WTA Tour. Renowned coach Rick Macci, who also talked to Tennis-Infinity.com, thinks that once the Japanese player returns she will be very dangerous.
Back in 2019, Osaka won 40 out of 51 matches that she played and her win ratio was even better in 2020 when she triumphed in 18 out of 21 matches that she entered. And even though she wasn't so successful in 2021 and 2022, Macci thinks that once the former world no. 1 returns, she can easily crack the Top 10 again.
"Naomi Osaka next year will 100% skyrocket back into the top ten. You do not lose the talent the laser groundies or that explosive serve to play right thru the field. Fitness and overall confidence takes time but with Four Slams in her back pocket she has been there done that."
While Macci believes that fitness and confidence will be the main hurdles in Osaka's journey, he thinks that the experience from winning four Grand Slam titles will help her to push through and overpower her opponents on her way back to the top.
Because of the pregnancy, Osaka's drop to her lowest since 2014 was inevitable, and currently ranked 42nd, the 25-year-old is expected to drop even further. However, once she returns, she will be able to use her protected rankings, and even when if she wouldn't be eligible for that anymore, she can be sure to receive wild cards from the tournament organizers.
All of that should help Osaka on her journey to the top and as she showed many times before, she's able to defy the odds and win tournaments that no one is expecting her to win.