“I dreamt I had to play Iga”: Naomi Osaka gets old foe Anisimova instead

The former world No 1 lost to Anisimova in the third round of the Australian Open

Naomi Osaka hits a forehand at the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Naomi Osaka hits a forehand at the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

A couple of days before the draw was made for Roland-Garros, former world No 1 Naomi Osaka had a dream, that turned out to be a nightmare.

In the dream, Osaka, who is unseeded this year after missing a large chunk of 2021 due to mental health issues, drew world No 1 Iga Swiatek, the Pole who’s on a 28-match, five-tournament winning streak heading into Roland-Garros, in the first round

“I had a dream a couple days ago that the draw came out, and I had to play Iga,” Osaka told reporters in Paris on Friday, laughing.

“Like for me, I was scared because I was thinking, like, what’s the worst possible player to play when I’m unseeded. She came in my mind, so thank God that didn’t happen.”

Relieved, Osaka forgot all about the draw until her coach, Wim Fissette informed her on Thursday that she was not playing Swiatek but instead will face Amanda Anisimova, the American who beat her in the Australian Open this year.

“I just like completely forgot about the draw, I didn’t even know that it came out yesterday,” she said. “I actually thought it was coming out today. So then Wim was like, Oh, you know the draw came out. No, I didn’t know. Yeah, you play Anisimova. Oh, you’re joking, right? So it was that kind of conversation.”

In-form Anisimova a difficult opponent

Anisimova beat Osaka in a final-set tiebreak in Australia and has been on a roll in the first few months of 2022, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome as she moved into the world’s top 30.

A semi-finalist in Paris when she was 17, the now 20-year-old is likely to give Osaka a run for her money again but the Japanese, not at her best on clay, is ready.

“I wouldn’t say like I don’t want to play her, because I feel like for me I’m the type of person that if you beat me, like it motivates me more to win and I also learned a lot from the match,” she said.

“I feel like there is a possibility that playing her on clay might be better for me, just because I think I hit a heavier ball, and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, because this is also like my strategy. So I think it will be a great match (smiling).”

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