Osaka has also won 24 of her past 25 matches in Melbourne dating back to 2019. This encompasses her two Australian Open crowns in 2019 and 2021, semifinal showings at the 2021 Gippsland Trophy and Melbourne Summer Set 1 this year (both of which ended in walkovers), and a third-round run at the 2020 Australian Open (losing to Coco Gauff).
The last time Osaka had played Brengle was in the 2013 Rock Hill ITF W25 event, one day after her 16th birthday. Brengle had won 6-2, 6-2 that day; eight years on, Osaka turned the tables to concede just four games herself. In the third round, she will face a second American in a row in an intriguing first-time clash with Amanda Anisimova.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2022
Very few players in the women’s game are better than 24-year-old Osaka when she executes the power and precision which has led to four Grand Slam titles. Those fans inside Melbourne Park for Wednesday’s night session witnessed some fine ball-striking in the first set, which left Britain’s Andy Murray impressed as he watched on the television.
After cruising through the first set, Osaka briefly lost her way midway in the second. Brengle finally got on the scoreboard – drawing great applause from Rod Laver Arena – before further stalling the two-time Melbourne champion. Mounting frustration peaked for Osaka after she whacked a smash long to let Brengle break for 4-3, only for the 13th seed to instantly hit back.
Then she rediscovered a better level in the final couple of games to wrap victory in one hour and five minutes.
“I returned pretty well, that’s not my usual stat but I’ve been really working on that in the off season,” said Osaka, who took a four-month break at the end of last season.
“I’m trying not to rate my level, if I compare myself to the past I will never be satisfied. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.