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Naomi Osaka was preparing for Australian Open win on Jan. 1, says grandfather in Japan

Naomi Osaka's grandfather Tetsuo Osaka speaks about her at Nemuro City Hall in Hokkaido on Feb. 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Hiroaki Honma)
Naomi Osaka's grandfather Tetsuo Osaka speaks about her at Nemuro City Hall in Hokkaido on Feb. 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Hiroaki Honma)

NEMURO, Hokkaido -- Tennis star Naomi Osaka, 23, who recently won her second Australian Open women's singles title, had predicted on New Year's Day that she would triumph in the competition -- and is already focusing on her next goals, her grandfather told the Mainichi Shimbun in an interview on Feb. 22.

    Speaking in the city of Nemuro in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, Osaka's 76-year-old grandfather Tetsuo Osaka revealed that she had told her 50-year-old mother Tamaki in a phone call on Jan. 1 that she was "going to win" the Australian Open.

    Tetsuo said he was surprised at Naomi being true to her word. He added with a smile, "When you've looked at her for over 10 years, you come to know when she's not in form and when she's speaking with confidence."

    In the phone call, Naomi is said to have talked about her aspirations, saying that she wanted to win the gold medal at the Olympic Games.

    "It's like mountain climbing," Tetsuo said. "She's like an alpinist going after higher mountains, and I think she'll be able to keep going for about 10 years."

    Regarding Naomi's words and actions off the court, which have come to garner attention, Tetsuo said, "It might be thanks to her grandfather's good education, or it might be a case of a trait skipping a generation, but she's gotten better at speaking." He then advised, "You've got to be a good person. Just because they're strong, a person shouldn't become arrogant."

    On the day of Naomi's Australian Open final on Feb. 20, a hat, T-shirt, badge and other goods arrived from Australia, Tetsuo disclosed -- a sign of the tennis star's feelings for her family. When Tetsuo told Naomi, to come to Nemuro again, she is said to have replied in Japanese, "Yes, OK."

    "I'd like her to open a tennis school for children in Nemuro," Tetsuo said. "To do that, the coronavirus has to end first."

    (Japanese original by Hiroaki Honma, Hokkaido News Department)

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