T Tennis

Naomi Osaka has lost her comeback on the big stage. © APA/afp / DAVID GRAY

Osaka loses in Melbourne and still amazes

It wasn't enough to advance at the Australian Open. But Naomi Osaka's first big appearance since her comeback is impressive.

Naomi Osaka has lost her highly anticipated comeback to the Grand Slam stage. Despite an overall promising performance, the 26-year-old Japanese had to admit defeat to Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 4:6, 6:7 (2:7) at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.

Osaka withdrew from the WTA tour in September 2022 and made it public a little later that she was pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter Shai in July 2023. At the end of the year, the former number one in the tennis world announced that he wanted to return to the tennis court sooner than many expected. Two years ago, she reported depression and anxiety and later took an extended break to protect her mental health.

Naomi Osaka is back on the Grand Slam stage. © APA/afp / DAVID GRAY

When she returned to Brisbane just six months after the birth of her daughter, Osaka appeared more relaxed than in the past, when she mostly isolated herself and walked around with large headphones. During the break she realized how much she loved and missed tennis. “I’m now trying to put a lot less pressure on myself and soak it all up.”

“Playing such good tennis six months after giving birth is impressive.” Caroline Garcia

When she entered the Rod Laver Arena on Monday evening in a silver glittering training jacket, she was cheered by the spectators. In only her third match since returning, she stood up well to Garcia and scored some spectacular points. But in the end Garcia was still too strong for the Japanese. “Respect for Naomi. To be playing such good tennis again just six months after the birth of her daughter is impressive,” said Garcia.

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