Naomi Osaka powered her way into the Australian Open second round before admitting this year’s competition presents a unique physical challenge.
Every player competing in the tournament had to complete two weeks of mandatory quarantine upon their arrival in Australia, which severely restricted their ability to prepare as they usually would for a Grand Slam.
There were little signs of Osaka struggling, though, as she easily overpowered former world number 13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2 to book her place in round two.
“I was really nervous coming into this match,” Osaka said on court after the match.
“I know that I’ve played her before and it was really tough. I just wanted to play well.”
“I feel like everyone’s body has been shocked, coming [to Australia] and playing matches.
“[I’m] really happy to see people in the stands. It’s been a bit lonely in New York (at the US Open, her last Grand Slam).”
“In New York it was definitely a bit strange, but it was also really nice because in the finals all of the volunteers were in the stands and they finally got a chance to get good seats instead of just peering through the cracks.”
On paper it looked like a really tough draw for Osaka, but she says she is happy to take on anyone.
“I saw the projected draw and actually, I’m kind of excited,” Osaka said.
“I like playing tough people, especially in Slams.”
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