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Osaka’s comeback begins, Murray v Dimitrov on Brisbane day two

31 December 2023, by Vivienne Christie

While old favourites return, new names will aim to make in impact on their tournament debut – there’s both a sentimental sense of nostalgia and an exciting glimpse of the future as first-round action continues at Brisbane International 2024.

All eyes will be on the day two opening match at Pat Rafter Arena, as former world No.1 Naomi Osaka begins her comeback against Tamara Korpatsch.

Osaka is contesting her first tournament since the birth of baby daughter Shai in July last year and the four-time Grand Slam champion is excited to make her tour return.

“I haven’t played a match in a long time, but I’m competitive, so I’m thinking I’m nervous and I want to win. There’s a lot of things that are going on in my head,” Osaka admitted ahead of a first career meeting with the world No.84 from Germany.

“I think the biggest thing is just walking onto the court and sort of absorbing all the energy and experiencing the atmosphere for me is something that I’m definitely going to treasure a lot.”

> VIEW: Brisbane International 2024 day two order of play

Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitorv will equally cherish their Brisbane returns, as they headline the evening session at Pat Rafter Arena.

In 2013, Murray defeated Dimitrov in the final to lift the men’s singles trophy in Brisbane for a second consecutive year.

Dimitrov is also a former champion of this tournament, claiming the men’s singles trophy in 2017.

Murray – ranked No.42 against No.14 Dimitrov – acknowledges the threat against the resurgent Dimitrov, who was a straight-sets winner in their last match at the US Open in 2023.

“Grigor had a brilliant season last season. Played against him at the US Open. He won comfortably,” said the 36-year-old Brit of the Dimitrov, who is the No.2 men’s seed in Brisbane this year.

“(I) need to play really well, certainly much better than there, if I want to get through it.”

Young stars Ben Shelton and Holger Rune, meanwhile, will launch their inaugural Brisbane campaigns as high-profile seeds.

The 21-year-old Shelton is excited to compete in a new Australian city, with his love for this nation forged in a Australian Open quarterfinal run last year.

The third-seeded American, who went on to reach the US Open semifinals and win a first ATP singles title in Tokyo, is feeling the benefit of experience from a full season on tour.

“I feel a little more calm, more prepared. I know how things work a little bit more,” said Shelton, who only competed outside America for a first time last January.

“I feel like I belong a little more. I just know more people. Things are a bit easier than they were last year.”

The 17th-ranked Shelton faces Roman Safiullin in the second match at Pat Rafter Arena. He defeated the world No.40 in their only other match at Shanghai last year.

At age 20, Rune is the No.1 seed in Brisbane, after ending 2023 at world No.8.

Rune soared to a career-high No.4 last August and sounded his intentions for further progress with the recent appointments of Severin Luthi (Roger Federer’s former coach) and Boris Becker to his coaching team.

The Dane has been handed a tough opening match in Brisbane, as he faces Australia’s Max Purcell for the first time.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be hopefully a great match,” Rune commented. “He’s a home-court player here, so it’s going to be an advantage … I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

There’s also the chance for locals to cheer on an Australian hero, when Daria Saville faces Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the final match of the evening session.

While fans will relish the on-court action in Brisbane, there’s also fun off the court with Family Fun Day.

Gates at the Queensland Tennis Centre open at 9.30am, with play commencing at 11am.

> BUY NOW: Tickets for Brisbane International 2024