Tennis - Osaka
Naomi Osaka on her way to second round win against American Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-4 on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Melbourne: Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said Wednesday that she is taking inspiration at the Australian Open from none other than Nick Kyrgios.

The Japanese defending champion, vowing to be more laidback this year after a difficult 2021 battling personal issues, revealed she was relaxing on her off days by taking in some tennis.

That included watching Australian showman Kyrgios’s entertaining straight-sets win over Britain’s Liam Broady in front of his boisterous home fans inside John Cain Arena on Tuesday.

“I watched Kyrgios’ match last night, and honestly, now I’m feeling like it’s not an Australian Open if you don’t watch a night match of Kyrgios on John Cain,” said Osaka, who is into the third round in Melbourne. Osaka was pleased that she found a way out of a second-set blip to beat American Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4, staying on course for a potential fourth-round clash with top-ranked Ash Barty.

“I thought his serve was awesome. I don’t think my serve percentage was as good as his, but it was really nice to see him back and having the crowd so hyped up.”

Warming to her theme, the former world number one also name-checked Carlos Alcaraz, the 18-year-old Spaniard and 31st seed.

“I really like watching Alcaraz,” she said. “He’s really good. His forehand, I wish I could trade my forehand for his forehand.”

Osaka, who last year withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon as the pressure got too much, also had kind words for veteran Andy Murray after he tweeted that he was enjoying watching her play.

“Definitely means a lot. For me it was a really cool moment,” she said of the Scot, who on Tuesday battled to his first win at the Australian Open since 2017.

“It’s a little bit shocking because when you’re playing, you never really think about the TV broadcasting it and other people are watching.

“So definitely really surreal. I hit with him once three years ago and it was a memory that’s really dear to me.”