New mother Osaka makes a triumphant comeback in Brisbane

BRISBANE: Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka looked strong on her return to elite tennis after 15 months, beating Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-3, 7-6(9) in the first round of the Brisbane International on Monday. Defeated.

The 26-year-old Japanese player last competed on the tour at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022 and had her first child, daughter Shai, in July before beginning her preparations for the Australian Open from January 14-28.

Osaka left no stone unturned in breaking Korpatsch in her first game and the former world number one turned up the heat again at the end of the opening set with a brilliant forehand winner to wrap it up in 38 minutes.

Two-time Melbourne Park champion Osaka lost her advantage for the second time late in the next set, but she continued her clean ball striking in a tightly contested tiebreak to seal the win.

“I was very nervous but I was really excited to be here. It feels really good to be back,” Osaka said after taking photos with fans at the court complex.

“I feel like the last few years when I played before my daughter was born I didn’t get as much love as I was given, so I really feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.

“I really appreciate people coming out and cheering for me, because I think there was a time when I was just a little kid trying to watch my role model play. So ever— It feels really surreal to ever play on these courts.”

Osaka next faces former world number one Karolina Pliskova, who has received a bye into the second round.

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