News & Media

Osaka shines brightly in tour comeback at Brisbane International

1 January 2024, by Leigh Rogers

Naomi Osaka has made an impressive return to win her first completed WTA Tour match in 517 days.

“It feels really good to be back,” the four-time Grand Slam champion told an adoring crowd today at Pat Rafter Arena.

The Japanese star produced a dazzling display to defeat German Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 7-6(9) at the Brisbane International.

After dominating the first-round match early, Osaka was forced to dig deep to secure a straight-sets win.

“Honestly, I’m very proud of myself,” Osaka said. “I feel like I played at a pretty good level. I think my opponent played really well, as well.”

The former world No.1 squandered a 5-3 advantage in the second set and had to save two set points in a fiercely contested tiebreak, before eventually closing out the match in one hour and 48 minutes.

It is Osaka’s first match – and win – since having daughter Shai in July 2023.

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

A radiant Osaka savored the moment, taking selfies and signing autographs with her many fans before leaving the court.

“I feel like the last couple of years that I played, before you know I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given, so I really feel what I want to do in this chapter,” Osaka explained.

“I just really appreciate people coming out and people knowing me and cheering for me, because there was a time where 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 victory sets up a tantalising second-round showdown with another former world No.1, Czech Karolina Pliskova.

“I think my next match will be a really good test,” Osaka said.

Pliskova is a three-time champion in Brisbane and has won 16 of her past 17 matches at the tournament. This includes a three-set semifinal victory against Osaka, where she saved a match point, during her title-winning run in 2020.

“She’s such a tough opponent,” Osaka said of the No.16 seed. “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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