Doha, Feb 13
Former World No.1 Naomi Osaka returned to her winning ways as she defeated No.15 seed Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-4 in the first-round at the Qatar Open, WTA 1000 event.
With her 1-hour and 28-minute win on Monday night, Osaka avenged her first-round loss to Garcia earlier this year at the Australian Open, which was Osaka's first Grand Slam appearance since her maternity leave began at the end of 2022.
In the second round, Osaka will take on Petra Martic of Croatia. Former Top 15 player Martic needed to go the distance on Monday before squeaking past Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) in just under three hours of play.
Osaka won the first match of her comeback this season, against Tamara Korpatsch in Brisbane, but had lost her next three in succession. Now she is back on track, garnering her first win over a Top 50 player since she beat Belinda Bencic at the Miami Open in March of 2022.
"I feel like I'm a much better player now. I think in Australia my returns weren't as good, and I don't feel like I was as focused as I am now," Osaka said. "I think that definitely made a difference, especially against such a good server like she is," she said.
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