Naomi Osaka confirms return date as she targets Australian Open
Former world number one and four-time major winner Naomi Osaka will return to tennis at Brisbane next year, she has confirmed.
Osaka has been out of tennis since September 2022 due to giving birth to her first child, a girl called Shai. That followed a prolonged spell of decline in which the mental health challenges of tennis appeared to be getting the best of her.
However, she has been working on her return for some weeks now, and her performance coach recently claimed he has refreshed her motivation and is resolved to win back her spot at the top of the WTA rankings.
It appears that quest will start in Brisbane on December 31, presumably as a precursor for the Australian Open, which she has won twice before.
“I am really excited about getting back out on court and competing. I always love starting my season in Brisbane and can’t wait to return,” Osaka said.
“The Brisbane International is such a great tournament and will set me up for a brilliant comeback this summer.”
one step at a time 🕚🕚🕚 pic.twitter.com/LJOgG4RMSJ
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) October 25, 2023
Will it be a different Naomi Osaka who returns?
Naomi Osaka is a proven top-class player, although only really on hardcourts. All four of her majors have come on that surface, and when she was at her peak she almost looked unbeatable at times.
However, her problems on clay and grass certainly highlighted deficiencies in her game, and Florian Zitzelsberger says there is a plan to make changes so she is a different, more complete player when she does return.
“She’s obviously a great offense player, but I think things have changed in the game over the last half-decade where defence is getting more and more important,” Zitzelsberger said.
“We’re working to make Naomi into a player who can transition more effectively from defence to offense.
“That way, even if she’s getting pushed into a defensive position, she can still strike an offensive shot.”
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