Osaka on-song in return win at Brisbane

GRAND Slam champion Naomi Osaka looked fit and firing upon her return to the WTA Tour, where she picked up a straight sets win at the Brisbane International. In what was the former world number one’s first match since September 2022, Osaka dusted off the cobwebs with a 6-4 7-6 triumph over German Tamara Korpatsch.

Unsurprisingly, the Japanese star earned a wildcard at the event, and after missing 14 months of action since giving birth to her daughter Shai in July, 2023. Having only won three matches since reaching the Miami Open final in April 2022 – losing seven in the process to end the year – Osaka announced her return for the Australian Summer.

Currently unranked, Osaka drew the 83rd ranked German Korpatsch in the first round of the WTA 500 event. Though she has won seven career title and made more than $21 million USD, Osaka was starting from scratch again. However she had not lost any of her talent, showing off powerful groundstrokes and cunning interlect.

In what was ultimately just getting minutes on court, Osaka won 6-4 7-6 – winning the second set tiebreaker 11-9 – to advance through to the Round of 32. She hit five aces and won 73 per cent of her first serve points off a 66 per cent efficiency rate, breaking Korpatsch four times.

“It feels really good to be back,” Osaka said post-match. “Honestly, I’m very proud of myself. I feel like I played at a pretty good level. I think my opponent played really well, as well.

“I was super nervous, but I was really excited to be out there.”

Osaka’s opponent quality steps up dramatically, taking on Karolina Pliskova in the second round after Pliskova had a bye in the opening round. The three-time champion has won 16 of her past 17 matches in Brisbane and will be stiff opposition for the Japanese talent.

“She’s such a tough opponent,” Osaka said. “She’s very different from the match that I played just now, so (I’m) very interested to see what happens.”

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