Emma Navarro’s Impressive Centre Court Debut Against Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon 2024

Emma Navarro made an amazing Wimbledon Center Court debut, displaying incredible poise and talent in her match against four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka.

Every time I walk onto Wimbledon’s Center Court, music fills my head. The main reason for this is that one of my favorite SW19 routines is to get onto the grounds before 8:30 a.m., find a remarkably empty Centre Court, find a comfortable spot to sit by myself, put on some music, and let the contemplative grandeur of Wimbledon wash over me. Feel free to refer to me as a New Age traditionalist.

Emma Navarro’s Impressive Centre Court Debut Against Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon 2024
On the court and on the mic, Navarro was in command. © 2024 Robert Prange

A song by Carly Simon called “Anticipation” sprang to mind as I watched 19th-seeded Emma Navarro walk onto Centre Court for her first-ever second-round match in that legendary location. The lyrics appear first.

Nevertheless, the line “You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht” from another Simon song quickly came to mind as Navarro’s match against four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka got underway.

After winning 6-4, 6-1 in a fast 58 minutes, Navarro was incredibly calm and efficient throughout, playing as if she had competed on Center Court twenty-five times.

Playing on Center Court was undoubtedly a unique experience, according to Navarro. “I made a sincere effort to appreciate the experience, have fun, and play well at the same time. I believe I succeeded in doing that. Thus, it was a truly remarkable and unique experience today.

It goes without saying that “You’re So Vain” is the second Simon song I cited. However, to see Navarro play is to see a game that is astonishingly free of any pretense, pretense, or anything but a laser-like focus.

“Honestly, I feel like even though in the beginning it was kind of like we were trading games, I don’t know why, I didn’t feel fully confident in myself,” Osaka said in an interview after the event. I didn’t think my playing was all that good. Those misgivings must have begun to seep heavily into my play. Give Navarro credit for subtly and effectively raising such doubts.

“I made an effort to adjust my positioning when facing first serves,” she remarked. “I’m not sure. Perhaps that slightly entered her thoughts. I didn’t want her to know where I would be positioning myself, so I tried to force her to hit the serve that she wasn’t comfortable hitting. As a returner, perhaps that was an assistance to me today.

“Then, during the rally, my coach simply tells me to hit the ball through the court while remaining grounded and to hit through the ball as if you’re hitting through a volleyer.”

After finishing the first set in barely thirty minutes, Navarro didn’t so much accelerate as keep her balance. Serving at deuce in the opening game of the second set, Osaka missed a forehand drop shot, Navarro’s first of nine consecutive points won.

From that point on, an inconsistent Osaka could not generate momentum in the rallies, lacking much more than the precise power that will eventually secure her a place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Navarro’s was usually able to read Osaka’s path like a well-worn book as she lined up her forehand, often scampering to the right corner in time to crack a drive of her own.

Also Read: Jannik Sinner’s Victory over Matteo Berrettini in Wimbledon 2nd Round

Emma Navarro’s Impressive Centre Court Debut Against Naomi Osaka at Wimbledon 2024
Navarro and Shnaider, two rising youngsters, have seen a lot of each other this season. © 2024 Robert Prange

Next up for Navarro is 30th-seeded Diana Shnaider. These two are well acquainted, having partnered in Roland Garros and the Australian Open this year. They have played just two WTA singles matches so far this year. In two of the three sets, Shnaider prevailed.

Indeed, Navarro remarked, “She’s a great competitor and really funny.” She plays with such bravery and makes all of her shots, which is, in my opinion, a major component of her game. She will attempt it. She is obviously a lefty, which makes things difficult. Well, I’m just thrilled to have the task.

Playing a player you’ve previously lost to can be enjoyable at times. Perhaps a small amount of pressure is released. I’m looking forward to the challenge, so yeah.

Not too excited, though, if Navarro’s cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor on Centre Court is any guide. Navarro was ranked outside of the Top 50 when she fell in the first round of her Wimbledon debut a year ago. She is in the Top 20 and among the final 32 players in the draw a full year later.

The song “Anticipation” by Carly Simon concluded with a line that Navarro could relate to: “And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days.”

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