Camila Osorio: I need to slay mental ‘dragons’ to reach WTA top 20

By Gustavo Borges

Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct 18 (EFE).- Although she says she still needs to further improve her serve, forehand and backhand, promising young Colombian tennis player Camila Osorio insists that the key to breaking into the top 20 of the WTA rankings for the first time is to slay some invisible rivals: the “dragons” between her ears.

“That’s what my psychologist calls thoughts related to the need to defend ranking points, to travel demands or to comments in the media. Above all that, I need to focus on the joy of playing, like when I started at age six in Cucuta,” the 71st-ranked Osorio said Tuesday in an interview with Efe.

The 20-year-old scored one of the biggest upsets on the first day of the Guadalajara Open Akron, a WTA 1000 tournament in western Mexico, defeating Russian world No. 19 Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) on Monday.

Both players struggled on serve in a match that featured a whopping 17 service breaks, but Osorio’s superiority in the clutch moments allowed her to book a spot in the round of 32.

“I don’t want to put things in my head. There were a lot of mistakes on serve, but it was both of us. That’s tennis. Maybe I won more with my attitude and variety,” she added.

Osorio steadily climbed up the rankings and reached a career-high of No. 33 this April, but she has endured an injury-related setback in recent months.

“In last year’s tournament in Tenerife (Spain), I suffered an abdominal injury,” she said, recalling that it continued to affect her at the start of the 2022 season. “I ended up bed-ridden for 10 days. Instead of playing tennis, I spent that time playing Nintendo. I recovered. I made it to the quarterfinals here in Guadalajara and the final in Monterrey (in late February and early March 2022), but I kept having other problems.”

Osorio said that two days after a narrow 6-7 (5-6), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) loss to Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the Monterrey final she suffered a hamstring pull that forced her to retire from her first-round match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

“I couldn’t play Miami and I was serving underhanded in my semifinal match in Bogota (in April) because my leg wouldn’t let me (serve normally). I had to stop for a month, and when I recovered I was lacking in confidence, afraid I’d injure myself again,” the Colombian said.

Now healthy, Osorio says the worst is behind her and that she has the drive and will to climb back up the rankings.

“I need to be more consistent, get my body stronger and be solid on serve. Well, there are always more things to improve, but I’m in that process, on that path,” the Colombian added.

Osorio will next square off on Wednesday in the round of 32 of the Guadalajara Open Akron against 38th-ranked Czech Marie Bouzkova.

“I hope to enjoy it and show my fighting spirit,” she said.

Above all, she said she is trusting that the wins will come as a product of enjoying tennis the way she did back in Cucuta, when she was a young girl and no “dragons” were tainting the purity of her journey. EFE


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