Melbourne (AFP) – Naomi Osaka is back at the place where she won two of her four Grand Slam titles with good feelings after taking the time to rediscover her love for the sport.
The Australian Open champion kicked off the 2022 season with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Alize Cornet on Tuesday at a summer tournament in Melbourne.
Osaka returned to Rod Laver Arena for the first time since winning the Australian Open last February. It was also his first tournament since losing in the third round of the US Open to Leila Fernandez in September.
After the defeat, Osaka said, “I honestly don’t know when I will play my next tennis match.”
After his victory in Melbourne, Osaka noted that he scored this year’s goal: enjoy the game.
“I’m the kind of person who cares a lot about results and qualification and I need to find a way to enjoy this sport again, because that’s why I started playing,” he admitted.
Travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a busy schedule ahead of the Australian Open on January 17.
Three events are taking place this week in Melbourne as part of the Australian Summer Tennis Championships – two WTA tournaments and one ATP tournament. The ATP/WTA Tour Championships is taking place in Adelaide this week. The ATP Cup is held in Sydney.
Summer Set top seed Jessica Pegula lost in Melbourne, 7-6(6) in the first round, 6-3 to Irina Camelia Bejo.
In the men’s tournament in Melbourne, Fakundo Bagic defeated former top seed Andy Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. He will now face third seed Grigor Dimitrov. Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, received a wild card for his first major tournament of the season.
In Adelaide, 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek began her Adelaide International title defense with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Daria Savile.
In other matches, American Coco Gauff beat Norway’s Ulrike Ikere 6-2, 6-1 and will face world number one Ash Party in the second round. 2020 Australian champion Sofia Kenin beat Lucia Bronzetti 7-5, 7-5, and eighth seed Anastasia Jasanova beat Elina Svitolina 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka ousted fourth seed Paula Padusa 6-3 6-2.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
“Lifelong travel trailblazer. Food nerd. Award-winning music enthusiast. Twitter guru.”