STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Naomi Osaka makes net-busting start to Australian Open title defence

Naomi Osaka, the world's second highest-paid female athlete after Serena Williams, powered through 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Published: 20th January 2020 12:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2020 12:39 PM   |  A+A-

Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in their first round singles match the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne.

Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in their first round singles match the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

MELBOURNE: Naomi Osaka began her Australian Open title defence in emphatic fashion, breaking the net with a blockbuster serve as she dismantled unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova on Monday.

The 22-year-old Japanese, the world's second highest-paid female athlete after Serena Williams, powered through 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

The two-time Grand Slam champion, one of the prime threats to Williams's bid to win a record-equalling 24th major, will play China's Zheng Saisai in round two.

Thrid seed Osaka saw her victory march held up for a few minutes early in the second set after a fizzing serve clocked at 183 kilometres per hour (114 miles per hour) damaged a net tether at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena.

ALSO READ: 'My face is everywhere' - Ashleigh Barty feels the love at Australian Open

"Broke the net today," Osaka tweeted afterwards to her more than 500,000 followers, along with a video of three maintenance personnel rushing onto court to repair the broken fixture.

Osaka, who endured a turbulent 2019 after winning in Melbourne 12 months ago, was relieved to overcome the 59th-ranked Bouzkova safely.

"It was really tough for me trying to control my nerves," she said. "It's tough to play someone you've never played before in the first round of a Grand Slam. I hope I'm still standing here at the end of this week."

Osaka has spoken openly about her struggles with negative headlines and the weight of expectation, but was in relaxed mood throughout.

It was partly because her Haitian father Leonard Francois, who was her coach for back-to-back titles in the autumn in Japan and China, was in her player's box for the first time at a Grand Slam.

ALSO READ: 'Can't let this slide' - Anger grows over smoke haze play at Australian Open

"Before when he used to sit in my box I would just look at him and complain a lot," the former number one Osaka told a press conference, calling her father "superstitious".

"But I have matured over the past three or four years he hasn't sat in my box.

"He was my coach during Tokyo and Beijing and was sitting in my box the entire time. 

"He has a good winning streak by sitting in my box."

The first Grand Slam of the year went ahead as scheduled on Monday after air pollution eased in Melbourne -- although that gave way to rain.

Last week's build-up to the Australian Open was plagued by choking haze from widespread bushfires, forcing organisers to temporarily delay qualifying matches.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp