Tennis star Naomi Osaka returns to the Bay Space with a win in San Jose

SAN JOSE — She’s a world famous person.

She’s the lady who lit the Olympic cauldron for her house nation of Japan on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

She’s received hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and folks desirous about what she’s doing each day.

However on Tuesday, Naomi Osaka was again the place she hadn’t been in additional than two months: on the tennis court docket.

The previous no. 1 participant on the planet defeated Qinwen Zheng of China 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in entrance of two,005 individuals in San Jose — the most individuals at a Tuesday daytime session in additional than a decade. It was Osaka’s first match because the French Open in late Might due to an Achilles harm.

Osaka, 24, has spent 25 weeks because the No. 1-ranked participant on the planet throughout her profession, however she got here to San Jose as a wild card — each within the literal sense (as an entry into the event) and within the larger-scale have a look at the game, too. Earlier than Tuesday, the tennis world was questioning if she would appear to be her previous self or if she would have any rust and look extra like a participant at the moment ranked No. 41 on the planet.

“It is actually good to be again,” Osaka stated in her on-court interview after the match.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 02: Naomi Osaka performs Qinwen Zheng in the course of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Traditional, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, on the Spartan Tennis Complicated in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Space Information Group)

When she’s at her greatest, there is no denying simply how gifted Osaka is. Out of all of the gamers lively on the tour, solely Serena Williams has extra grand slam wins than Osaka’s 4 – which have all come on exhausting court docket surfaces, fairly than the clay of Roland Garros or the grass of Wimbledon.

Williams and Osaka are eternally linked due to the 2018 US Open, when chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams three controversial code violations, the third of which value the legend a whole sport. Williams was known as a liar and a thief, and Osaka went on to beat her idol 6-2, 6-4 for her first title however was in tears in the course of the trophy presentation.

Osaka entered superstardom after following up the primary title by successful the subsequent grand slam, the 2019 Australian Open. She added one other title at every exhausting court docket occasion two years later (2020 US Open, 2021 Australian Open), solidifying her standing as the very best exhausting court docket participant on tour.

However trendy superstardom comes with an intense highlight, and Osaka was a number one athlete to talk up concerning the psychological well being toll that it will possibly take. She admitted she battled despair and refused to do her media obligations on the 2021 French Open, and after being levied with a $15,000 positive, she as an alternative selected to withdraw from the event earlier than the second spherical and step away.

She skipped Wimbledon in 2021 however performed within the Tokyo Olympics, the place she misplaced within the third spherical. She later performed on the US Open however stepped away from the game once more after the event.

“I really feel like for me, lately, once I win, I do not really feel completely satisfied, I really feel extra like a aid. After which once I lose, I really feel very unhappy,” Osaka stated after her third spherical loss. “I do not suppose that is regular.”

2022 has been a return to having fun with tennis, however she’s battled accidents. Lastly wholesome, Osaka returned to the Silicon Valley Traditional — the event she made her skilled debut in again in 2014 — to start ramping up for the US Open, which begins on the finish of August. And this week in San Jose will be seen as a protected start line to construct up confidence forward of the ultimate grand slam of 2022.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 02: Naomi Osaka points to her father in the stands after defeating Qinwen Zheng at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Tuesday, Aug.  2, 2022, at the Spartan Tennis Complex in San Jose, Calif.  (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 02: Naomi Osaka factors to her father within the stands after defeating Qinwen Zheng on the Mubadala Silicon Valley Traditional, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, on the Spartan Tennis Complicated in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Space Information Group)

There have been indicators of rust on Tuesday, as she put lower than half of her first serves in play in her first set. However her world-class forehand appeared as robust as earlier than — and felt it, in her eyes.

She additionally gave some credit score for her efficiency to her father, who’s her coach once more after Osaka parted methods with Wim Fissette after three years. Osaka pointed to her father throughout her on-court interview after the match and stated he “at all times makes me smile.”

Osaka will play once more on Thursday in opposition to American phenom Coco Gauff, who received her first match in opposition to Anhelina Kalinina 6-1, 6-0 in simply 54 minutes. That showdown shall be within the night session.

However after Osaka’s 2-hour, 3-minute match on Tuesday, the overwhelming feeling she had was pleasure about coming again to the Bay, the place she stated her greatest mates are from. She’s even stated she’s dropped in courses at San Jose State.

“I type of really feel like an area, a little bit bit,” Osaka stated.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 02: Naomi Osaka signs autographs after defeating Qinwen Zheng at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Tuesday, Aug.  2, 2022, at the Spartan Tennis Complex in San Jose, Calif.  (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 02: Naomi Osaka indicators autographs after defeating Qinwen Zheng on the Mubadala Silicon Valley Traditional, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, on the Spartan Tennis Complicated in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Space Information Group)

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