“I’m glad they’ve decided themselves what they want to do, because in the end of the day it’s something that gives me satisfaction and peace, knowing that they made the decision, not myself or my parents or anybody else,” Djokovic said. “Because in this kind of circumstance, they feel obliged, or they feel pressure that they have to meet the expectations of the other brother or sister. Because if you’re part of the same sport, naturally, everyone will compare you to your other siblings. It’s not ideal, especially if your other sibling is the best in the world.”
Siblings of top players have often drafted off that familial fame to get started in their career, but the main draw wild card for Mari Osaka raised many eyebrows around the tournament, considering she was ranked more than 200 spots below the cut for the qualifying draw for this elite event. James Blake, the Miami Open tournament director, said the decision to double the number of Osakas in the draw had been an easy one.
“Obviously Naomi is someone that’s accomplished so much, and you want to encourage her sister as well,” Blake said. “You wonder if there’s a lot of talent and she hasn’t had the same opportunities. We know she’ll also be a draw. Naomi has so many fans; Mari is going to hopefully gain some of those fans by association.”
Blake, who reached a career-best of No. 4, had a brother, Thomas, who reached 264th — a parallel that he admitted tinted his view.
“He got some wild cards, definitely with the Blake name,” James Blake said. “He really appreciated them. Mari has thanked me, her parents have thanked me. They realize that this is a big opportunity for her.”
It is rarer for the younger sibling to make a splash on tour first. For most of their childhoods, Mari had dominated her younger sister in practice matches.
“Up until I was 15 she was 6-0-ing me, ridiculous,” Naomi said. “I don’t know what happened, maybe finally something clicked in my head, but for sure she was beating me. In the win-loss record, she’s up by like a million or something.”