Japan’s Naomi Osaka opened her defence of the Australian Open title with a dominant win over Colombia’s Camila Osorio on day one in Melbourne. Osaka, also champion in 2019 and 2021, raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set before world number 50 Osorio fought back. However, Osaka quickly reasserted her control and wrapped up a 6-3, 6-3 win.
Osaka, seeded 13th, is returning to Grand Slam action after taking a four-month break at the end of last season to protect her mental health. The four-time Grand Slam champion will play American world number 54 Madison Brengle in round two on Wednesday. Brengle, 31, progressed after Ukrainian opponent Dayana Yastremska retired when trailing 6-1 0-6 5-0.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) January 17, 2022
Osaka has spoken openly about her struggles since she won her first Grand Slam title in 2018 aged just 20. She was criticised for opting not to speak to the media during last year’s French Open, from which she ultimately withdrew and revealed her struggles with depression.
Osaka told reporters in Melbourne that she felt as though she had “a little bit of unfinished business” within tennis.
“There was a time after the French Open where I felt like everyone was judging me,” said Osaka, who has won 23 of her past 24 matches in Melbourne.
“The turning point was after the US Open last year. I was just sitting in my house wondering, ‘What do I want to do in the future?’
“I felt like there’s still so many things that I want to do in tennis. I haven’t played Wimbledon in two to three years. I want to go back and experience that whole thing.”
Sakkari, on the other hand, had to work significantly harder to find a way past Maria. She broke Maria’s serve in the first set thanks to a double fault, and was matched by her opponent in the number of aces served.
Where Sakkari won out was her aggression. She had 13 more winners than Maria, and that helped her edge the match in the end.
However, she still had to endure a tie-break in the second set to get the job done. She failed to convert three seperate break points in the second set. But she dominated the tie-break and got the win.
“I didn’t feel great out there, but I found a solution, found a way to win,” Sakkari said afterwards.
“She has a tricky game that sometimes it makes you feel uncomfortable inside the court. Yeah, it was a decent match. I kind of, like, survived.”