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Brisbane international open: Nadal, Osaka progress so far

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brisbane international open
Rafael Nada at the Brisbane International Open. Photo/Sportstar-The Hindu
  • Brisbane International Open is a quite a big deal this year
  • Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka are back in the game after missing out on the entire 2023 season
  • Their progress is commendable and evidently, there is a change of mindset

Brisbane International Open is quite a big deal this year because of Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka’s comeback.

The duo didn’t play much in the 2023 season. Osaka announced she was pregnant just before the start of the 2023 Australian Open. She became a mother in June 2023 and took time to nurse her little girl before going back to the tennis courts for training.

Nadal sat the season out over injuries and subsequent surgery. With their comeback, Brisbane is more animated than it was before.

Brisbane International Open Progress

From the few matches the three tennis have played so far, they are sending rays of hope. Here is what each of these players has achieved.

Rafael Nadal

In his first singles match in nearly a year, Nadal secured a commanding victory over Dominic Thiem at the 2024 Brisbane International. The 37-year-old demonstrated his prowess by defeating Thiem, 30.

The Austrian is a former world No. 3 now ranked 98th, with a scoreline of 7-5, 6-1 in the tournament’s first round on Tuesday. Remarkably, Nadal, exhibited a dominant performance by breaking Thiem’s serve three times.

rafael nadal returns to tennis

Rafael Nadal. Photo/Tennis Buzz

The Mallorca-based tennis star did not face a break point on his own serve which impressed his fans in a big way.

He was energetic and full of zeal as he returned to action after 11 months following a hip injury sometime in 2022. So bad was it that he couldn’t advance past the second round of the Australian Open. Mackenzie McDonald defeated him in straight sets.

Nadal underwent surgery in June 2023 and he took months to recover. He wasn’t sure that he would play in Brisbane.  His victory over Thiem fascinated his tennis rival Novak Djokovic who officially welcomed him back to tennis via an Instagram post.

He had earlier told his fans that he did not have a lot of expectations on his comeback but all he wanted was to play.

“It’s been a long time, and I hope to feel those nerves, illusions, fears and doubts again. I expect nothing from myself, and it’s the truth. My career is in a different place than before, and I’m in a position to only ask a little from myself,” he told Tennis World USA.

Still, his first match victory at Brisbane International Open offers a ray of hope on what to expect at the Australian Open in a few days.

Naomi Osaka

Osaka won her first-round match at Brisbane International Open over Tamara Korpatsch from Germany. While she wasn’t so lucky in her second match against Czech Karolina Pliskova.

The latter knocked her out 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-4 but it was a fierce match with the old Osaka effect. In a clash between two former world No. 1 players, Osaka surged ahead to secure the first set, while Pliskova gradually gained momentum in the second.

brisbane international open

Naomi Osaka. Photo/Sportstar – The Hindu

After successfully fending off an early break point, Pliskova capitalized on her serve, seizing control of the match and ultimately winning an impressive 92 percent of her first-service points in the set.

While Osaka consistently posed a threat throughout the final set, she couldn’t capitalize on the remaining opportunities, leading to a narrow loss.

Despite the defeat, Osaka’s return to the court showcased not only her prowess but also a notable shift in mindset compared to when she took a hiatus.

In both her on-court performance and media engagements, Osaka seems to have embraced a different approach.

She acknowledged being more open with fellow players, a departure from her previous stance of maintaining distance from rivals, which resulted in self-imposed isolation from the rest of the players. This change suggests a positive evolution in Osaka’s perspective as she re-engages with the tennis world.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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