February 12, (THEWILL) – Former world number one tennis star Naomi Osaka put last week’s first-round defeat behind her with a resolute straight-sets win against 15th seed Caroline Garcia at the Qatar Open on Monday. The 7-5 6-4 victory marked the second win for Osaka since returning from a 15-month maternity break last month.
The Japanese player was seeking revenge against Garcia, who knocked Osaka out in the first round of the Australian Open in January. Displaying determination, Osaka fended off two break points while Garcia was serving for the first set, breaking back to level at 5-5. She then wrapped up the set with a love break.
Securing a further break of serve in the deciding game of the second set, the four-time Grand Slam champion claimed the win she sorely required after her early exit in Abu Dhabi last week. Osaka’s next test comes in the second round against Petra Martic of Croatia.
Intriguingly, this will be the third meeting between the pair a whole decade after their first showdown – a 2014 final qualifying clash at Stanford where a 16-year-old Osaka prevailed. With Osaka showing grit to bounce back this week, the omens look positive for the former world number one.
After a difficult return to action last month, this hard-fought victory demonstrates Osaka’s enduring competitive fire. As the Japanese superstar continues her comeback trail, tennis fans will be hoping this result marks the beginning of a sustained return to form.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.