By Ben Morse, CNN
The 25-year-old couldn’t have hoped for a better script for a potential entry, which she is writing for Jan. 17 when she won her opening match 6-3, 6-3 over Colombia’s Camila Osorio at Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka, seeded 13th in this year’s draw, took a 5-0 lead in the opening set on Monday before a spirited play from 20-year-old Osorio and some unforced errors saw her into the match.
The Japanese star eventually managed to win the first set. In the second set, Osorio had two early break points but couldn’t capitalize on them.
Osaka took a 3-1 lead and a stray Osorio backhand on the net finally gave Osaka the win to give their title defense the perfect start.
“I thought I played pretty well given the circumstances, I didn’t have a lot of information about my opponent.” said Osaka in her on-court interview.
She added: “I hope we gave you a really good performance. It always feels very special for me to come back here. I have a lot of really good memories here.”
Osaka meets Madison Brengle in the second round after the American advanced as Dayana Yastremska fell 1-6 6-0 0-5.
Earlier this month Osaka played her first match in four months After taking a break from tennis following a loss to Leylah Fernandez at the US Open last year, she also withdrew from the French Open, citing mental health issues and opting not to compete at Wimbledon.
The four-time Grand Slam champion said that during her time in Melbourne she prioritizes her enjoyment on the pitch.
“I can’t expect to win every game, but I do expect to have fun and challenge myself,” she said said. “I’m here because I want to be here and because I think I enjoy it.
“I accept the fact that I’m going to have slumps and I have to find a way to overcome them.”
Could this be the year?
like Osaka, Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open couldn’t have started better as the Spaniard sets out to claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory.
The Spaniard defeated Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in just an hour and 49 minutes to advance to the second round in Melbourne.
With his 70th win at the competition, Nadal continued his fast start to 2022 at Rod Laver Arena.
After missing the end of the 2021 season with a foot injury, Nadal won the Melbourne Summer Set title two weeks ago, his first tournament win on Australian soil since the Australian Open in 2009.
And the 35-year-old maintained his fine form against Giron, a dominant 24-minute first set setting the tone.
Nadal kept his foot down the whole time and zoomed past world No. 66 Giron without too much fuss.
Nadal is the only former champion left in the draw – with Novak Djokovic deported and injured Roger Federer – meaning a win in Melbourne could see him become the all-time men’s Grand Slam champion.
And he stressed the importance of winning last week’s Melbourne Summer Set after beating Giron.
“Last week was important for me. I played three games, I won three games. I won a title, it’s always nice,” Nadal said said.
“And I think I’m getting better and better. You never know what’s going on but I’ll be happy if you tell me that a month ago I’ll be in this position, of course I’d sign the paper without a doubt (smiling).
“In the beginning (of a comeback) it will be difficult, of course sometimes you will not have the best feelings on the pitch.
“But staying positive, playing with the right energy and of course practicing on tour with the lads and winning games definitely helps.”
Sixth-seeded Nadal now meets the winner of the match between wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis and qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the second round.
The CNN Wire
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