Naomi Osaka warms up for Australian Open final with some American football in practice as she aims to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles
- Naomi Osaka has been throwing an American football around in Melbourne
- The 21-year-old has been preparing for her Australian Open final on Saturday
- She plays Petra Kvitova looking to become a back-to-back Grand Slam winner
On the eve of her Australian Open final against Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka ditched her racket and has been throwing an American football around on the practice courts in Melbourne.
The 21-year-old is aiming to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles on Saturday following her US Open win in September.
She continued her preparations for her meeting with eighth-seed Kvitova by dropping the racket and picking up the football on Friday.
Naomi Osaka ditched her racket and has been throwing an American football around
The 21-year-old launches the ball to one member of her coaching staff on the practice courts
Osaka is aiming to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles on Saturday following her US Open win
She looked relaxed as she continued her preparations for her match with eighth-seed Kvitova
Pictures show Osaka throwing the ball around with her coaching staff in the blazing Australian heat.
She was then given a series of stretching exercises to do to loosen up for the match as famous Australian actor Eric Bana watched on from the side of the court.
Osaka will contest her second straight major final on Saturday, becoming the first woman since Jennifer Capriati to follow a maiden title by reaching the final of the next major tournament.
Asked why she has seemingly found adjusting to life as a slam winner so straightforward where many others have struggled, Osaka said on Friday: ‘I love Grand Slams.
‘This is a place I think is worth all the training. When you’re little, you watch the grand slams, you watch all the players play the legendary matches here.
‘For me, this is the most important tournament. There’s only four of them a year, so of course I want to do the best that I can.’
She was then given a series of stretching exercises to do to loosen up for the match
Osaka quickly refueled with a bottle of water as she looked to cool down in the searing heat
Famous Australian actor Eric Bana (L) watched the practice from the side of the court
Osaka will have the chance to become world No 1 if she can defeat 28-year-old Kvitova
Unusually, Saturday’s match will be a first career meeting between Osaka and 28-year-old Kvitova, with the added spice that the winner will also take the World No 1 ranking.
‘I think to have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a grand slam is something very amazing,’ said Osaka.
‘I’ve watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is. It’s definitely going to be very tough for me.’
Kvitova is playing in her first slam final outside of Wimbledon, and said of facing Osaka: ‘Definitely I need to play my best tennis. I think Naomi is on fire.
‘She’s an aggressive player, which I am as well. So I think it will be about who is going to take the first point and push the other a little bit.’