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Naomi Osaka praises ‘ruthless’ Andy Murray as she discusses Brit’s possible retirement
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Naomi Osaka praises ‘ruthless’ Andy Murray as she discusses Brit’s possible retirement

Naomi Osaka expressed her admiration for Andy Murray as she spoke about the legacy the British legend will leave behind when he retires from tennis.

The four-time Grand Slam champion also admitted she “can’t fathom” the consistency of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and praised the Polish star for being “great for the sport.”

Murray stated in February that it is “not likely” he will play beyond this summer, but he has yet to announce which tournament will be the last of his glittering career.

The former world number 1 will return to action later this month after accepting a wildcard entry into the Geneva Open, which starts on May 18.

The 36-year-old has not played since suffering a complete fracture of his ATFL and a near-complete fracture of his CFL in his ankle during his third-round match against Tomas Machac at the Miami Open in March.

After the ATP 250 event on clay in Geneva, Murray looks set to make what will likely be his final French Open appearance. Murray is expected to play alone in the men’s doubles, with reports suggesting he will team up with compatriot Dan Evans.

This step will serve as preparation for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, which will also take place at Roland Garros from July 27 to August 4. The two-time Olympic champion has expressed his desire to play the Games for the last time this year.

READ MORE: Andy Murray’s Wimbledon swan song is back on track as his comeback event confirmed

Following her opening round win against Clara Burel at the Italian Open, Osaka was asked about her thoughts on Murray ahead of his latest comeback.

“Yeah, it’s funny, I actually asked (my coach) Wim (Fissette) where Murray was because I haven’t seen him for a few tournaments. I didn’t know he was out,” Osaka said.

“I mean, to me, Murray is such a great guy, such a tough competitor. I think it’s really amazing that he loves tennis so much and that he keeps coming back. He’s had all these injuries. He’s quite ruthless. Just his ability to continue to play games at a high level.

“For me, when I think of him, when I think of the legacy he leaves on tennis, he obviously did a lot for British tennis, or should I say British tennis.

“I think when he was a kid watching these great battles on TV, he influenced every tennis kid in the world.

“Yes, he has been very vocal (about women’s tennis). I know all the tennis players and all the female athletes really appreciate it.”

The former world number 1 also praised the success of four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek and two-time Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka.

“Yeah, I mean, I always say this, but I think she’s incredible,” she said. “The way she can stay No. 1 and consistently perform well at all tournaments is something that I honestly can’t imagine or fathom when I was No. 1 for about five seconds (smiling).

“Yeah, I mean, I think she’s great for the sport. I also think it’s great, great to see Sabalenka doing so well. I hope one day I can play them both.”

Osaka will face number 19 seed Marta Kostyuk in the second round in Rome today.

READ MORE: Naomi Osaka’s coach ‘super happy with the process’ as he discusses clay battle