Playing her first match in 56 days, Naomi Osaka picked up right where she left off on Sunday, beating Zheng Saisai, 6-1, 6-4, in her opening match at the Tokyo Olympics.
“The Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, so I feel like the break that I took was very needed,” the No. 2-ranked Osaka said afterwards.
“I feel definitely a little bit refreshed, and I’m happy again.”
Osaka hadn’t played since winning her first-round match at Roland Garros on Sunday, May 30th—after that straight-set win over Romania's Patricia Maria Tig, she withdrew from the tournament prior to her second-round match due to personal reasons. She then withdrew from Wimbledon, announcing she would return at the Olympics.
And it looked like she didn’t miss a beat as she stormed out to a 5-0, double-break lead against Zheng, eventually breaking one more time for 6-1, 2-1 and holding onto that break until she had the win. She fought off all six break points she faced in the match.
The four-time Grand Slam champion's first-round match was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was moved to Sunday after she lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony.
Osaka, who has now won 24 of her last 25 matches on hard courts, will next face Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, who won her first-round match against Colombia’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano on Saturday, 6-4, 6-1. Golubic, a rare player on the women's tour with a one-handed backhand, is fresh off her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
Osaka and Golubic will be playing each other for the first time.
Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty’s return to action didn’t go so smoothly, as the No. 1-ranked Australian—who just won her second Grand Slam title two weeks ago at Wimbledon—was bounced in the opening round by an inspired Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-4, 6-3.