Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka returns to action with a win on the Melbourne tour. The Japanese tennis star admitted that she first thought that she would miss the majority of the 2022 season. But her love for the sport has pulled her back to the court after spending her break with family and friends.
Osaka defeated French tennis player Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in straight sets in the first round of the Melbourne WTA 250 tournament. This was her first game after he decided to go on an indefinite period break after bowing out of the US Open last year.
Osaka will now face Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska in the second round in Melbourne.
The Japanese star appeared for an interview after beating Cornet in the opening. She highlighted how her love for the sport made her come back to the court.
“During the off-season, I just hung out with my friends and talked to my family a lot,” Osaka said. “I felt like that was a way of decompressing the pressure I had on myself. Then I just slowly started to regain the feeling of love that I had towards the game.”
The 24-year-old pointed out a very important fact that how she started playing tennis for the joy that she got from it. Over the last few seasons, it was event after event, all heavily competitive and hence she thought she needed a break to bring back the child in her who could remind her love for the sport.
“It’s not like it ever completely went away, but I felt like it got overshadowed by a lot of emotions that I was feeling just by constantly playing year after year since I was like – I started tennis when I was three years old, and I never really took a break,” Osaka continued. “Yeah, sometimes it’s just good to remember why you’re playing.”
However coming back to the Grand Slam at hand, Osaka will be looking to put up a good show on her comeback. But for that, she admits that she needs more players under her belt. The Japanese star is coming back after a break but her skill set and talent will surely make her a contender to win the Grand Slam Down Under.
Speaking on the preparation for the Australian Open 2022, Osaka how playing against the best players in the world is never easy. “You’re playing the best players in the world, and for me, I also feel like I need to play matches right now,” Osaka added. “I haven’t played that many matches. Hopefully, I get more into the groove of things.”