Naomi Osaka, the former world number one and now a new mother, rekindled her competitive fire at the Brisbane International, securing her first win since her extended hiatus, acknowledging the nerves and excitement that accompanied her return.
In a riveting hour and 47 minutes on Pat Rafter Arena, the four-time Grand Slam champion overcame a determined Tamara Korpatsch, prevailing 6-3, 7-6 (11/9). Osaka, candid about her emotions, admitted, “I was super nervous, but I was excited to be out there.”
Taking stock of her victory, Osaka remarked, “Looking back on the match now, honestly, I’m very proud of myself. I feel like I played at a pretty good level.”
After a break from tennis due to mental health concerns in September 2022 and embracing motherhood by welcoming her baby girl in July, Osaka returned revitalized for the 2024 season, displaying unwavering focus and an evident passion for the game.
Her match against Korpatsch showcased glimpses of her past brilliance as she swiftly took the first set, but the German’s resilience posed a challenge in the second, testing Osaka’s mettle. Despite a rollercoaster of momentum swings and tense tiebreak moments, Osaka eventually clinched victory, crediting her daughter for bringing a newfound perspective to her life on and off the court.
Speaking about her changed outlook, Osaka shared, “Off the court, I’m more aware of people and I appreciate them a lot more, even my opponents and everything.”
In the men’s draw, world number eight Holger Rune clawed back from a set down to defeat Max Purcell, while Grigor Dimitrov showcased resilience to triumph over Andy Murray after losing the first set. Russian Roman Safiullin also delivered a formidable performance, ousting American Ben Shelton in a marathon encounter lasting over two-and-a-half hours.
As Osaka’s victorious return sets a vibrant tone, her reflections on motherhood and newfound appreciation for the sport hint at a reinvigorated chapter in her illustrious tennis career.