Winning comeback for Naomi Osaka in Brisbane

Former world number 1 tennis player Naomi Osaka won her first match after more than a year of absence on Monday, beating German Tamara Korpatsch at the WTA 500 tournament in Brisbane.

It took the 26-year-old Japanese player one hour and 47 minutes to defeat a valiant opponent 6-3, 7-6 (11/9) on the Pat Rafter court.

“I was very nervous, but I was happy to be there,” said Osaka, who had not played since September 2022, faced mental health concerns in recent years, and who also had a child in July.

Her long break seemed forgotten when she took Korpatsch’s serve (83e) from the first game, then a second time to win the first set quite easily.

But in the second set, the German took Osaka’s serve from the start and, although the Japanese star won the next game, she was no longer as comfortable against her opponent.

Osaka broke again and served for the match at 5-4, but she lost her serve again and the match ended in a tiebreak.

The Japanese wasted two match points and Korpatsch two set points before Osaka won on her third opportunity with a powerful forehand down the line.

She said motherhood changed her outlook on the game and she had felt too isolated from fans and other players before.

“The last two years I played before having my daughter, I didn’t give back as much love as I was given,” she said.

“I really feel like this is what I want to do now. I really appreciate people coming to support me.”

On the men’s side of the table, the Dane Holger Rune, 8e world and number 1 seed, qualified for the 2e round by overthrowing Australian Max Purcell 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

British veteran Andy Murray, 36, who suggested that 2024 would perhaps be his last season on the circuit, was knocked out by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, winner 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 of a big fight.

Tuesday, it will be the turn of Rafael Nadal, back after almost a year of absence and falling to 672e world rank, to enter the tournament, facing the Austrian Dominic Thiem.

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