The world number three is widely seen as a frontrunner at Melbourne Park, having gone 14 matches unbeaten — including the US Open final — before withdrawing from her Gippsland Trophy semi-final against Elise Mertens with a shoulder injury.
Naomi Osaka insisted Saturday she wasn’t consumed by returning to world number one, revealing her top priority was greater consistency as she eyes a second Australian Open title.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Osaka reached the rankings summit two years ago when she defeated Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open and become the first Asian player to take the top spot.
Despite her heady rise, the 23-year-old said becoming world number one felt slightly underwhelming, and brought extra pressure.
“I think nobody really acknowledged me as number one,” said the Japanese star, who was wearing glasses, an orange beanie and Los Angeles Lakers attire in her press conference.
“It just made me think people don’t really see me as number one. I just kept trying to prove myself. I felt like that wasn’t really a good mindset to have.
“If it comes to the point where I’m able to be number one again, I’ll embrace it, but I’m not really chasing it like that anymore.”