Rick Macci Analysis: Naomi Osaka
Dec 20, 2023
Legendary coach Rick Macci has been delivering succinct analyses of the games of several leading pros (past and present) through in depth interviews with Florida Tennis editor Jim Martz. Macci continues in this post with his views on Naomi Osaka.
I love her game. Even though she has a pretty big swing, she’s a great athlete, doesn’t get enough credit. Great movement, a lot of racquet speed on both sides. When you can move like that and have courage to hit the ball, you’re definitely a threat. And she can pop the serve 120. She’s a great athlete, has a lively arm.
So, she has covered all the bases. Mentally she’s strong, she’s a great athlete, firepower off both wings.
Listen, she’s won multiple Grand Slams already, and that was when there were still a few contenders in there. Serena was still hanging in there in the 2018 U.S. Open final, and a few others.
Fame and fortune. She goes from Who is this? to being the richest female athlete in the world.
Her life has changed. Now she’s a mother. That’s why she had to take time off. (She announced on September 1 she will return to the tour in 2024).
I’m going on the record: I think this young lady will come all the way back. I think she’ll be number 1 in the world. I think she’s going to win a handful of Grand Slams ... if she wants to.
If she’s all about the competition, meaning I want to knock you out. I love to win. I’m not afraid to lose.
It’s not about anything else, your brand, the platform, the money. I’m just going to die to win every point, and it’s all about the competition.
If she’s all about the competition, anybody, anytime, anywhere, I think Osaka can be number 1, I think she will be number 1, but this is all in her head because just like the great Jennifer Capriati, she disappeared. All the way off the face of the earth.
Jennifer came all the way back. Not to 50, not to 20, not to number 10. All the way back when everybody said she was out of there. There were only three people who believed in JenniferL Stefano Capriati, Denise Capriati and Rick Macci, even though I wasn’t her coach then.
She came all the way back because you don’t lose the talent, you don’t lose the firepower. You lose the fitness and you lose the confidence. Jennifer came all the way back, number 1 in the world, won three Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal, and that huge contract from Fila. You don’t lose that stuff.
Osaka will do the same. I think she’ll come all the way back and be number 1.
Interview with Rick Macci was conducted by Florida Tennis Founder and Editor Jim Martz. This article also appears in the November/December 2023 issue of Florida Tennis Magazine. Be sure to subscribe for expanded coverage, exclusive interviews, and in-depth tennis news. Photos: Carine06 / Carine06 (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED).