Naomi Osaka delivers her runner-up speech in the Miami Open last April 3.
Osaka leads four other women’s wildcards as she kicks off her clay season. Former Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, sixteen-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, who is fresh off her surprise fourth-round finish in Miami, World No. 52 Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine and no. 70-ranked Qinwen Zheng from China are also on the list.
On the men’s side, Murray reversed his previous decision to sit out the entire claycourt season as he accepted a wildcard in Madrid, where he is a two-time champion.
Murray, who underwent a career-saving second hip surgery in 2019, stated in February that playing on claycourt aggravated his injury issues and would instead focus on his build-up for grasscourt.
The World No. 83, however, accepted the wildcard in Madrid, with BBC stating that the Brit had been practicing on the red dirt in Florida and came to the conclusion that over two months without match practice would hinder his chances at Wimbledon. He joins 20-year-old countryman Jack Draper, no. 157-ranked Lucas Pouille of France and World No. 363 Carlos Gimeno of Spain as wildcards in the men’s section.
Andy Murray was a champion in Madrid in 2008 and 2015.
In the qualifying round, 16-year-old Alex Eala of the Philippines, a player from the Rafa Nadal Academy who just cracked the Top 500 at World No. 411, was awarded a wildcard along with Spain’s Jessica Bouzas, China’s Xiyu Wang, France’s Fiona Ferro, Hailey Baptiste of the USA and Erika Andreeva.
Alejandro Moro, Daniel Rincon, Daniel Merida of Spain and China’s Juncheng Shang are the wildcards in the men’s qualifiers.
Naomi Osaka kicks off clay season as she eyes Roland Garros seeding
Naomi Osaka kickstarts her clay court swing as a wildcard at the Madrid Open.
Naomi Osaka is eyeing improvement on her round-of-32 finish in last year’s edition of the Madrid Open. She exited following a 4-6, 6-3, 1-6 loss to Karolina Muchova.
Osaka participated in just three clay tournaments last season, the last at Roland Garros where she withdrew due to her mental health struggles.
But with her resurgence following a finals appearance in Miami against eventual champion Iga Swiatek nearly three weeks ago, the World No. 35 said that she wanted to “take the clay court season seriously” as she looks to be seeded at Roland Garros.
“Clay and grass is something I really want to tackle this year. So I’m willing kind of to do whatever it takes to get good results. Not that results are everything, but I really want to do well,” Osaka said during her post-final press conference in Miami.
“I would say it’s definitely really interesting. Like last year, I didn’t really care about my ranking at all. But this year I find myself wondering if I went to the top 50 or the top 40 and stuff like that. My main goal is to be seeded at French Open now,” she added.