AFPHONG KONG (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka on Monday set her sights on Olympic glory in 2020 as she became only the second Japanese woman to reach No. 4 in the world rankings.
The fast-rising star, who turns 21 on Sunday, has already become Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion after she stunned Serena Williams in New York last month.
And on Monday, she rose to a career-best ranking of four to become the highest-ranked Japanese woman since Kimiko Date in 1995.
Now she is targeting a strong performance at the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month and she could yet finish her standout season as the top placed Japanese woman of all time.
Looking further ahead, the Osaka-born dual U.S.-Japanese national, who represents the country of her birth in tennis, has her eyes on the Tokyo Olympics.
“Everyone is really excited in Japan for the Olympics,” she told reporters at the WTA Hong Kong Open, which she has been forced to withdraw from because of a back injury.
“I know that everyone — all the Japanese players — wants to do well and of course I share that same feeling,” she said.
“I really want to experience the moment and at the same time I know I want to win the gold medal — everyone who plays in the Olympics wants to win gold — so that would be my aim, but [also] overall just to have fun.”
Osaka, who has referred to her breakthrough victory at Flushing Meadows as “bittersweet” after it was overshadowed by an explosive row between Williams and the chair umpire, has been tipped for greatness by Chinese tennis great Li Na.
But despite her stunning victory and subsequent catapult into global sporting fame, the 20-year-old bashfully still said she felt flattered by the praise from Asia’s first Grand Slam singles champ.
“I think it makes me happy that Li Na talks about me,” she said.