World number two Naomi Osaka has admitted she’s putting pressure on herself to do well at her home Olympic Games, following her second-round win against Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic.
The Japanese star is playing in her first competition since withdrawing from the French Open and is yet to drop a set so far, despite a perceived lack of match practice.
“I put this pressure on myself to do well because I know that I don’t play that many tournaments,” said the 23-year-old after today’s victory.
“For me, I feel like I’ve watched these players playing the tournaments while I was on my break, so I just really, really want to do well.”
Osaka is a four-time major winner and is now heavily favoured to claim a medal in Tokyo, given her home advantage and her outstanding record on hard court surfaces.
Added to this, the Japanese born player no longer faces competition from world number one Ashleigh Barty. The Australian was knocked out of the tournament in the first round by Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, who followed up this win with a victory over France’s Fiona Ferro.
But Osaka will no doubt be feeling the pressure of carrying the weight of Japan on her shoulders. The tennis star is perhaps the most renowned athlete in the country and was given the honour of lighting the Olympic flame at the Opening Ceremony last Friday.
Taking to Twitter, Osaka described the moment as "Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honour I will ever have in my life.”
She added: “I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness love you guys thank you.”
Despite this pressure, Osaka is adamant she is still ‘here for a good time’ above all else.
The multiple major winner has been outspoken about her mental health struggles recently and is trying to make sure she enjoys herself.
“I feel like as long as I work hard, relatively keep my head down, then good things will happen,” she stressed.
“For me, it's my dream to be here, to play [in] the Olympics. This is my first one, so I’m just trying to cherish this experience.”
Next up for the second seed is Czech star Marketa Vondrousova in round three tomorrow morning.
The world number 41 beat Kiki Bertens and Mihaela Buzarnescu to reach this stage.
You can catch the match at 03:00 BST on Tuesday morning live on Eurosport.