Mats Wilander and Tim Henman are backing Naomi Osaka to return to the top despite her first-round defeat to Amanda Anisimova at the French Open.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka was beaten 7-5 6-4 by former French Open semi-finalist Anisimova.
Osaka withdrew from the tournament last year to protect her mental health and has since had several breaks from the sport. She also struggled with an Achilles injury ahead of Roland-Garros.
Raducanu beats Uchijima to reach second round in Seoul
But the world No. 38 looked like she might be returning to her best ahead of the clay season when she reached the final of the Miami Open.
“I’m not really surprised about Osaka losing to Animisova, she is a great player and made the semi-finals here a few years back,” said seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander.
- Henman doesn't expect big names to skip Wimbledon
- Osaka says Wimbledon will feel like 'exhibition' event
“I’m very happy to see Osaka back, trying hard and with a really good attitude.
“She has struggled on her clay her whole career so far, and she has struggled on grass too, she is very much a hard-court specialist. I think she is on her way back and will get back to the top again if she wants it.”
Osaka has won all four of her majors on hard courts and is yet to make it past the third round of the French Open or Wimbledon.
She said afterwards that she may not play Wimbledon this season due to the decision by the ATP and WTA tours to strip the tournament of rankings points.
'I get motivated by seeing my ranking go up' - Osaka on Wimbledon doubts
Former British No. 1 Henman, who is on the All England Lawn Tennis Club board, does not expect many big players to skip Wimbledon.
He also thinks Osaka will contend for big titles again.
“It’s great to see her in a really positive frame of mind because she has struggled with mental health issues and it’s most important that is she feeling healthy in that regard," he said.
“We say form is temporary, class is permanent, and she is one of the best players in the world. Her ranking has dropped but if she stays committed and keeps working hard there is no reason why she can’t get back to the top of the game in the not-too-distant future.”
- - -
Stream the 2022 French Open live and on-demand on discovery+
Osaka ends four-match losing streak after Saville retires due to nasty knee injury
'More down than up' - Osaka opens up on difficult 2022
Share this article