MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., March 20 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Naomi Osaka doesn't get to share a grand tennis tournament stage with her sister often, but she'll do just that at the 2019 Miami Open.
Mari Osaka is ranked No. 388 and is a year older than her superstar sister. She takes on American Whitney Osuigwe in the round of 128 Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. While the Osaka sisters have shared tournaments before, none have been as big as this, which many players consider an additional grand slam.
"It's interesting because you can give each other advice, especially if you know the opponent they are playing, if you've played them before," Naomi said. "It's more of a booster because I really enjoy having her around."
Mari and Naomi are sharing a hotel this week in Miami. Naomi said it would be a dream to play with her sister more often because she doesn't really talk to people and Mari is the "nicer one in the relationship."
But the top women's player on earth still was able to get in a few shots at her sister Wednesday, when she met with reporters for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the tournament that moved to the home stadium for the Miami Dolphins after being played in Key Biscayne for decades.
The Osaka sisters have teamed up in doubles play, but Naomi prefers to concentrate on her singles career.
Naomi said Mari owns the head-to-head record in the sister rivalry. The elder Osaka would win 6-0 in every set until her younger foe turned 15 years old, Naomi said.
"It was ridiculous," Naomi said. "I don't know what happened, maybe something clicked in my head. For sure she was beating me. In the win-loss record she is up by a million or something."
Now the younger Osaka sits atop the tennis world and is in the position to give her sister advice, after being on the wrong end of so many matchups during her childhood.
"It's a little bit weird because then I would have to give her advice and she's my older sister," Naomi said. "But i would just say to have fun and enjoy it. She has been doing newbie mistakes, like yesterday it rained out but she came at 11 and her match was [much later] ... I was like what are you doing? Stuff like that I have to talk to her about."
Coaching change and claims
One thing Osaka wasn't poised to discuss Wednesday was her recent coaching change. She won back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments before parting ways with Sascha Bajin in February.
"Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha," Osaka tweeted Feb. 11. "I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future."
"Thank you Naomi," Bajin responded. "I wish you nothing but the best as well. What a ride that was. Thank you for letting me be part of this."
Osaka said she has moved on from the change and is now working with Jermaine Jenkins, Venus Williams' former hitting partner. While the split from Bajin seemed amicable, one coach from her past is taking her to court.
Former coach Christophe Jean claims he had a contract with the Osaka sisters that entitles him to 20 percent of their prize money and endorsement deals for an indefinite time period.
Jean told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he didn't want to sue Osaka for a two-year coaching tenure for which he says he was unpaid.
"I didn't want to do this, but the last time I talked with [Osaka's father, Leonard Francois] he told me to go get a lawyer,'' Jean told the Sun-Sentinel. "So I got a lawyer."
Osaka's lawyer, Alex Spiro, told TMZ Jean's claims are "false."
"While it comes as no surprise that Naomi's meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly 'contract' that Naomi never saw or signed -- which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14 -- is particularly absurd," Spiro said.
"This case has no merit and we will move past it."
Osaka lost to Elina Svitolina in the second round of the 2018 Miami Open. She broke into the WTA's top 100 by winning two matches during his first appearance in the tournament in 2016.
The women's singles semifinals at the 2019 Miami Open are set for March 28. The women's singles final is at 1 p.m. March 30.