Mari and Naomi Osaka Could Be the Next Venus and Serena Williams

Mari and Naomi Osaka Could Be the Next Venus and Serena Williams

The Osaka sisters—Naomi and Mari—are two tennis sisters to watch. Like Venus and Serena Williams before them, Naomi Osaka and Mari Osaka have been playing tennis since childhood, and Naomi has made it all the way to the tournaments at Wimbledon 2018.

Though Naomi has just been shockingly knocked out of the 16th round of Wimbledon, at just 20 years old, the tennis star has been a professional for nearly five years. At Wimbledon 2018, the athlete channeled Serena Williams, and as her coach told the Women’s Tennis Association, “she likes the big stage.” Her older sister, Mari, made her debut in 2014, the year after Naomi went pro. Now, the Osaka sisters follow in the footsteps of Venus and Serena Williams, as two young sisters who are making waves in the field of professional tennis, and crushing their competition both on the court and on social media.

The two sisters were born in Osaka, Japan and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they trained. For her 62,000 Instagram followers Naomi projects as a regular 20 year old, and she is—she just happens to spend her days competing in some of the world’s most prestigious and most well known tennis tournaments, facing off against the very icons that inspired her.

Earlier this year, Naomi achieved a lifelong goal of competing against her idol—Serena Williams. At the Miami Open in March 2018, she faced off against Williams in the first round of the tournament, and as the two went head to head, Osaka won. It’s not every day that a rising talent beats one of the best athletes in the game, but Osaka took home the win, and had few words for the occasion, tweeting “Omg” after she shook her opponents hand and won the match. “Just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me, so I’m very grateful that I was able to play her and it’s even better that I was able to win,” she told the World Tennis Association after being asked about her experience of beating the 8-time champion.

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Old-style lawns would have snagged Rafa: Laver

Old-style lawns would have snagged Rafa: Laver

FILE PHOTO: Melbourne, Australia – 26/1/17 Former Australian tennis player Rod Laver looks on after he was presented with the Companion of the Order of Australia by Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – Australian great Rod Laver was as impressed as anyone while watching Rafael Nadal tear into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Saturday to stay on track for a third title.

Yet Laver, who many still feel is the best player ever to have graced the All England Club lawns having won four titles in the 60s either side of being outlawed, says the marauding Spaniard would have feared grasscourt tennis in his day.

Wimbledon is no longer a fortress for serve-and-volleyers like Laver or players who came later such as Americans John McEnroe and Pete Sampras, who dominated in the 1980s and 1990s.

Changes to the grass, the hardness of the courts and racket technology now mean you can win the title from the baseline.

A look at the wear patterns on the courts this year proves that — with the areas inside the lines still a lush green nearly halfway through the tournament and the zone around the nets virtually unmarked.

Of the 91 points Nadal won in his straight sets defeat of young Australian Alex De Minaur on Center Court only 19 were finished off at the net.

Nadal is by no means a bad volleyer but, like most of the top players these days, he does his damage from the baseline.

Laver, who sat in the Royal Box as a guest of the club on the 50th anniversary of his return to the championships after the game turned pro, said it like watching a different sport.

“I don’t think Rafa would have played very well on the grasscourts that we used to play on,” Laver, who is approaching his 80th birthday, told Reuters.

“The ball kept lower and the bounce was uneven. You couldn’t hit topspin like he does when you can’t trust the bounce.

“We were scraping it out of the ground half the time. So no, I wouldn’t have thought Rafa could have played like he does then. Roger (Federer) maybe could have done it, he could have adjusted himself.

“Wimbledon’s courts were always the best but the bounce was still uneven, and the baselines were just loose dirt.”

Laver says he occasionally visualizes what it would be like to have played Nadal or Federer — the two giants of the modern game who between them have won 37 Grand Slam singles titles.

“Actually I’m very happy to have played at another time,” he said. “Roger and Rafa are unbelievably good players. I was playing with a wooden racket all those years. They play with the bigger headed rackets and it’s so different.

“I can’t even envisage playing with a racket like that. It’s two different games.”

Laver laments that the power players can now generate on serve and the reliability of the bounce has made serve-and volley almost redundant.

“When you can serve it down at 125 or 135mph there is no real need to go to the net,” he said.

“I used to serve and volley first and second serve because you knew that it was a safer option than letting the ball bounce. It was a natural thing to do.

“If the conditions are not conducive to volleying now, why would they want to come in. Players are not really exposed to volleying now which is a shame.”

Laver is no curmudgeon though and delights in watching the artistry of Federer and the brutal power of Nadal as well as young guns like compatriot Nick Kyrgios and German Alex Zverev.

He will be a regular viewer as Wimbledon enters its second week — back at the place he returned to in 1968 after tennis opened its doors to players like him who had turned pro in order to earn a living from the game.

Laver won the calendar-year Grand Slam in 1962 before joining the professional ranks and effectively ruling himself out of five years’ worth of majors.

Had it not been for his exclusion, his total of 11 Grand Slam titles would surely have been around the 20 that Federer has, perhaps more. But he has no regrets.

“No, I spent five years traveling with (Ken) Rosewall, (Lew) Hoad and (Pancho) Gonzales, and I returned in 1968 a much better player than I was in 1962,” said Laver, who won the calendar year Slam for a second time in 1969.

“I stayed long enough as an amateur to prove I could win the big tournaments, and then when I turned pro I actually improved out of sight. I remember when I came back and Roy Emerson said to me ‘What happened to the second serve I used to beat up on?’

“I said ‘I had to get rid of that’.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Wimbledon glance: Nadal, Djokovic join Federer in 4th Rd

Wimbledon glance: Nadal, Djokovic join Federer in 4th Rd

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Spectators sit on Murray Mound on the sixth day at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

LONDON (AP) — A quick look at Wimbledon:


After Sunday’s day off, all 16 fourth-round singles are scheduled to take place on a hectic Monday.


Sunny. High of 31 degrees (88 F).


Men’s third round: Ernest Gulbis beat No. 4 Alexander Zverev 7-6 (2), 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0; No. 12 Novak Djokovic beat No. 21 Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; No. 24 Kei Nishikori beat No. 15 Nick Kyrgios 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-4; No. 2 Rafael Nadal beat Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Women’s third round: Hsieh Su-Wei beat No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 7-5; No. 11 Angelique Kerber beat No. 18 Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4; No. 14 Daria Kasatkina beat No. 17 Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 6-3; Dominika Cibulkova beat No. 15 Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-2.


16 — The number of minutes it took Nishikori to win the first set against Kyrgios.


“We have YouTube.” — Gulbis’ reaction to hearing that Roger Federer wants to prolong his career so that the eight-time champion’s children can comprehend their dad playing.


More AP tennis coverage:

Djokovic slams Wimbledon crowd after being booed

Djokovic slams Wimbledon crowd after being booed

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Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a break point during his men’s singles match against Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, on the sixth day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) — Novak Djokovic shrugged off a bad call by the chair umpire that cost him a break in his Wimbledon win over home favorite Kyle Edmund on Saturday.

He was less forgiving when it came to the way he was treated by the crowd at the All England Club.

“There is a certain unwritten borderline where you feel that it’s a bit too much,” Djokovic said about being booed at times by the partisan crowd on Centre Court. “I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was treated by certain individuals.”

Neither the crowd nor a big mistake by the umpire could unglue Djokovic, though, as the three-time champion won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 for the 11th time at the All England Club.

He was robbed of a break at 3-3, 15-40 in the fourth set when the ball bounced twice before Edmund managed to return it over the net. Djokovic complained to the chair umpire but the call stood — even though TV replays also showed Edmund’s shot had actually landed wide.

Edmund ended up holding serve but Djokovic broke at his next opportunity to make sure there will be no British players in the second week of the tournament.

“I was 100 percent convinced it (bounced) twice,” Djokovic said.

“Anybody can make a mistake. That’s OK. But I don’t understand why he (the umpire) didn’t allow me to challenge the ball. I asked him. … So, yes, it was quite a strange decision from (the) chair umpire, but it happens.”

That wasn’t the only point of contention in the match. Djokovic got into a bit of a two-sided argument with the crowd after he was booed following a time violation in the third set. He responded by blowing kisses into the stands.

“I thought the crowd’s reaction after that (time violation) was quite unnecessary. A couple (of) guys really, you know, pretending they were coughing and whistling while I was bouncing the ball more or less to the end of the match at that end where I received the time violation.

“Those are the things obviously that people don’t get to see or hear on the TV. I just think it’s not necessary. That’s what I didn’t like. … My interaction with the crowd, I thought had good things and not great things. I just reacted the way I thought was fair, the way they reacted to me.”

Edmund, the last British player remaining in the tournament, said he didn’t notice anything disrespectful from the crowd, but acknowledged it was a Davis Cup-like atmosphere.

“It was a great atmosphere to be in,” Edmund said. “When you’re at Centre Court, to have the crowd behind you is a great thing.”

He also insisted he was unsure whether the ball actually bounced twice on the disputed call in the fourth set.

“If in real life it’s hard to tell, then it’s hard to tell for me when I’m scrambling,” he said. “We need the umpire to get off his chair and go to the TV monitor on the side.”

It was the third time Djokovic faced a British player at Wimbledon, losing to Andy Murray in the 2013 final and beating James Ward in 2016. But this was the first time he got a reaction like this from the crowd.

“The crowd was very fair when I played against Andy. Obviously they support their player,” he said. “But today there was just some people, especially behind that end where I got the time violation, they kept on going, they kept on going, provoking. That’s something that I can tolerate for a little bit, but I’m going to show that I’m present as well, that they can’t do whatever they feel like doing.”


More AP tennis coverage:

Tennis-Japan's Nishikori beats out-of-sorts Kyrgios to reach last 16

Tennis-Japan's Nishikori beats out-of-sorts Kyrgios to reach last 16

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) – Japan’s Kei Nishikori equalled his best run at Wimbledon when the number 24 seed reached the fourth round with a 6-1 7-6(3) 6-4 win over Australian Nick Kyrgios on Court One on Saturday.

The former world number four, looking for a first Grand Slam title having been U.S. Open runner-up in 2014, blasted Kyrgios off court as he raced through the first set in 16 minutes.

The volatile Kyrgios, seeded 15, went toe-to-toe with Nishikori in the second set but lost the tiebreak after receiving a code violation for blasting the ball out of court in frustration after he hit a return out to go 6-3 down.

Still annoyed at himself, the Australian next fired a return straight at Nishikori and watched as the ball came back off his opponent’s racket and in to hand the set to the Japanese.

Kyrgios blew hot and cold in the third, at times serving and volleying brilliantly though playing poorly against the serve.

It took Nishikori four match points to seal the win, having gone 40-0 up on the Kyrgios serve before being pegged back to deuce, when he fashioned a fine lob over the Australian.

“He played well… He returned really well,” Kyrgios said of Nishikori. “Most guys aren’t getting a racket or putting balls back in off my serve most of the time. He was returning well.”

The feisty Australian said he never managed to settle. “I was trying to loosen up, I was pretty uptight.

“Obviously getting broken first game didn’t help me. I just kind of panicked. Everything kind of just went south, I guess.

“My footwork was terrible. Just a bad day, I guess.”

Nishikori faces qualifier Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round after the Latvian had earlier upset fancied German fourth seed Alexander Zverev in five sets. (Reporting by Rex Gowar; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Djokovic tames Edmund, silences crowd, in comeback win

Djokovic tames Edmund, silences crowd, in comeback win

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Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 7, 2018 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the third round match against Britain’s Kyle Edmund REUTERS/Tony O’Brien

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – Three-time champion Novak Djokovic silenced a raucous Center Court crowd as he came back to beat home favorite Kyle Edmund 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday.

Briton Edmund was riding a wave of euphoria generated by England’s World Cup quarter-final win against Sweden as he outplayed the Serbian former world number one in the first set.

But 31-year-old Djokovic, who in the 2013 final lost to Andy Murray in a similarly frenzied atmosphere, snapped out of his torpor and took charge once he broke in a pivotal seventh game of the second set.

He dominated the third set and although 21st seed Edmund was competitive again in the fourth, Djokovic broke at 4-4 and then clinically held serve for victory — applying the seal to an impressive display with an ace down the middle.

Djokovic proved he still has the old fire in his belly too when he reacted furiously at 3-3 in the fourth when Edmund scrambled up a low ball for a winner despite replays clearly showing the ball had bounced twice.

While the 12-times Grand Slam champion is still not quite back to his best after a difficult year blighted by an elbow injury, he must now be considered a genuine threat.

“He became more and more dangerous and showed of his old self,” former champion John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC, said. “The intensity and the desire were there.”

The Serb, seeded 12th, will face powerful Russian youngster Karen Khachanov for a place in the quarter-finals.

“It was tough, Edmund is playing really well, he won our last encounter on clay,” Djokovic said of the man who has replaced the injured Murray as Britain’s top dog, said.

“He has just improved a lot in his game, especially the backhand side. The forehand we know is a big weapon, and he is serving better. Losing the first set was not an ideal situation for me but somehow (I) managed to come back.”


Edmund used his blowtorch forehand to great effect in the opening set and was the dominant player early on.

Feeding off the energy of a crowd still buzzing from events in Russia, he summoned up four break points in the seventh game — converting the fourth with a brilliantly-constructed point which ended with both players at close quarters.

The deafening roar that went around the arena was surpassed a few games later when Edmund took the opening set with a beefy serve down the middle.

Djokovic was wobbling but showed his old survival instincts and hung tough in the second set.

At 3-3 Edmund saved three break points, one with a sublime running forehand, but Britain’s new number one coughed up a double fault to give Djokovic the break.

Djokovic carried his momentum into the third set and broke in the first game — bellowing a guttural roar of his own as Edmund hooked a forehand long.

Edmund regrouped in the fourth set and when he saved serve at 3-3, thanks to a moment of controversy, it looked as though he could still drag the match into a decider.

The 23-year-old buckled in his next service game at 4-4, framing a forehand out to open the door for Djokovic to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 44th time — second on the all-time list behind Roger Federer.

Edmund’s defeat means there will be no Brits in the second week of the singles competition at Wimbledon.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)