Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka made a mind boggling winning return to tennis on Monday January 1, 2024 after going off for more than a year from the sport focusing on her mental health and also becoming a mother in July 2023.
The four-time Grand Slam champion beat Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 7-6 (11-9) in the first round of the Brisbane International to start off the new year in style.
Osaka’s last match played was at the 2022 Pan Pacific Open in Japan. Entering that competition as reigning champion, Osaka pulled out of the competition subsequent to experiencing stomach upset.
She was also expected to take part in the 2023 Australian Open, a competition she has won two times, but pulled out when she declared her pregnancy.
Osaka, who is currently not in a ranking list after not playing seriously for quite some time, hit 36 wins in the match to 21 natural mistakes, per the WTA. She held Korpatsch to 13 wins in the straight-sets triumph.
“The last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given,” Osaka said after the match. “I feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.
“I just really appreciate people coming out and knowing me and cheering for me, because I feel like there was a time I was just a little kid trying to watch my role models play. So it feels really surreal sometimes to be playing on these courts.”
Osaka’s ‘strong’ serve helped her dominate the game and she didn’t confront a break point during the initial set.
The next set was to some degree harder as the players traded breaks to send the match to a tiebreak.
Osaka wasted two match points in an emotional end toward the match but fixed the wins at the third season of asking with a forehand victory.
“Looking back on the match now, honestly I’m very proud of myself,” said Osaka. “I feel like I played at a pretty good level.
“I think my opponent played really well. Honestly, all I can think of is, like, the consistent nerves that I had. So just getting through that really tough match and hopefully building on it.”
The 26-year-old Osaka will play Karolína Plíšková in the second round in a match between two former world No. 1s.