Naomi Osaka fires her way to possible highest ranking of her WTA career

Naomi Osaka, 21, hit her highest world ranking of No. 12 after her win over Madison Keys on Sunday in Montreal. Next stop is the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 28.

An evening with Naomi Osaka at Olympic View – @Herald_With_a_Gauge — Steve Forbes (@ForbesOnline) August 15, 2017

“Grand Slams are the only hard courts in the world, so I really just want to have the best kind of experience and just know what it’s like to be there,” Osaka said.

The Japanese teenager beat 18-year-old Keys in straight sets to win her first WTA title on Sunday at an indoor tournament. “I’m really just thinking about trying to soak in the experience.” Osaka has been ranked as high as No. 19 in the world. “Since I started I always was like, ‘I want to make the top 10.’ But I never thought, ‘I want to make the top five,’” she said. “I think this year I can make the top 10, hopefully.”

But that ranking is now in doubt. Osaka’s surprise run will bring the 15th-ranked and heavily favored American player Venus Williams to Toronto on Aug. 25, next week. That clash could prove a decisive test, with both players competing in their first Grand Slam final.

Osaka will not have to get past Serena Williams, the 20-time Grand Slam champion who is pregnant and expecting a child with her husband in September. But she will get the toughest early test she has faced in her career, in the shape of the 34-year-old Williams.

“This can put me a lot higher up,” Osaka said. “But, at the same time, it can put me a lot lower, too. If I can keep this up I think I’ll be in good shape, but I really just need to work out the little things and do my best.”

And so starts the second half of 2017.

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