Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff won their opening matches in San Jose on Tuesday, setting up a blockbuster second-round clash at the WTA 500 event on Thursday night.

Osaka, who was playing her first match since falling to Amanda Anisimova at Roland Garros in May, dropped the middle set but cruised to victory in the decider against China's Zheng Qinwen, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, finishing with 26 winners to 23 unforced errors.

“I’m super happy I was able to win,” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “I had never played my opponent before, so it’s always really tricky, these types of matches—but she’s actually really good, and I’m sure I might play her again later on.”

The four-time Grand Slam champion, who blasted 11 aces in the match, played her first WTA main draw at this event in 2014—afterwards, she talked about how comfortable she feels at this venue, which is held next to San Jose State University.

“Actually, this is a short story,” she said. “My best friends are from here. They’re over there—so I’ve actually been to the campus. I’ve been in the class, just on the side, pretending like I’m studying but I was just doodling. I kind of feel like a local a little bit.

“It’s really cool to be back playing. I haven’t played since May.”

Gauff, who was playing her first match since Wimbledon—where she, too, fell to Anisimova—needed just 55 minutes to storm past Anhelina Kalinina, 6-1, 6-0, ripping more than twice as many winners as unforced errors in the match, 29 to 14.

“Today’s match was great,” the Roland Garros finalist said.

“I was glad to find out I was playing the night match—I love night sessions.”


When the on-court interviewer told Gauff that up next was Osaka, there were oohs from the crowd—and rightfully so, as the match-up has the star power of a major final.

“I mean, I’ve played her a lot of times,” Gauff said. “She’s obviously going to be a tough opponent. It’s not going to be an easy match. Our draw is probably the hardest of the tournament, for both of us. She’s such a champion on and off the court—those are the types of people you want to play, and I look forward to playing those matches.”

“What’s always impressed me about Coco is her mentality,” Osaka said of the 18-year-old Gauff. “She’s been on the tour for a while, and I think people don’t know that because of how young she is, but she’s improving every year, so there’s a lot that she’s learning and it’s only a matter of time before she wins a Slam.”

Osaka has won two of the pair's three previous meetings.

~ Osaka won, 6-3, 6-0, in 3rd Rd of 2019 US Open (hard)
~ Gauff won, 6-3, 6-4, in 3rd Rd of 2020 Australian Open (hard)
~ Osaka won, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in 2nd Rd of 2021 Cincinnati (hard)

The pair’s fourth meeting will be the 7pm night match on Thursday night.