Naomi Osaka emphasizes positives despite Brisbane exit

Photo of Naomi Osaka.

Naomi Osaka participation in the Brisbane International, her first elite-level tournament since becoming a mother, concluded with a second-round defeat to three-time champion Karolina Pliskova. Despite triumphing in her return match on Monday, Osaka faced a more challenging encounter against Pliskova, resulting in a 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 loss.

Osaka was less troubled by the defeat itself than by the missed opportunity for additional matches before the Australian Open. While content with her current form, she acknowledged the brevity of the week, stating, “The court is essentially hers, if you catch my drift.”

“I’ll observe how things unfold in Melbourne. Reviewing the statistics later, I observed room for improvement in my break points, but overall, both of us performed exceptionally well.”

Ranked 39th and a former Wimbledon and US Open finalist, 31-year-old Pliskova, making her first appearance since a left wrist injury disrupted her 2023 season, expressed optimism about the start of her season. Recognizing areas for improvement, she considered it a positive beginning. Pliskova, with her wrist and hand taped, is scheduled to face third-seed Jelena Ostapenko next, who defeated Camila Giorgi 6-1, 6-4.

Top seed and defending Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka secured a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Lucia Bronzetti. In men’s play, Australian qualifier James Duckworth came from behind to defeat Yannick Hanfmann 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (2), while fourth-seeded Ugo Humbert won 6-4, 6-4 against Alex Michelsen.

Osaka, the top seed, displayed a formidable serve against Pliskova, registering 14 aces and two double faults, with an 83% win rate on her first serve. Her upcoming match is an exhibition on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne next week. She expressed contentment with her performance and a shifted perspective on winning and losing since becoming a mother.

Competing in Brisbane affirmed the significance of her preparation for the Australian Open, where she has secured two grand slam titles. Osaka reflected on the importance of stepping onto the court and how these matches reassured her about the promising trajectory of her year.

Furthermore, Emma Raducanu has secured direct entry into the Australian Open main draw following several late withdrawals. The 2021 US Open champion made a triumphant return to the court at the ASB Classic in Auckland after being sidelined since April due to wrist and ankle operations.


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