Four-time winner of major tennis tournaments and former top-ranked player Naomi Osaka will return to the sport at the revived Brisbane International, much to the excitement of fans.
On Friday, Brisbane authorities announced that they had secured Osaka as their highly sought-after star player for the Australian Open warm-up tournament, which will take place from December 31 to January 7.
Osaka expressed her enthusiasm for returning to the court and competing in a statement.
“I am always excited to kick off my season in Brisbane and I am eagerly anticipating my return. The Brisbane International is an exceptional tournament and will pave the way for a successful comeback this summer.”
Osaka, who has won both the Australian and US Open twice, caused a stir last year when she withdrew from the Melbourne Park major unexpectedly. It was later revealed that she was pregnant.
In July, the Japanese celebrity and her American rapper significant other, Cordae, happily welcomed their daughter Shai in Los Angeles.
“After a brief and enjoyable break, it’s time to return to our usual programming,” Osaka shared on her social media during that time. “Excited to be back on the court.”
The 26-year-old is the most recent among a group of tennis players who are also mothers, such as former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, to declare their comeback to the sport.
Osaka has only played one game, let alone a match, since the 2021 US Open in New York. She was leading Daria Gavrilova 1-0 at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, 2021, before the Australian tore an ACL. Osaka then forfeited her second-round match before taking time out to have her first child.
Adding Osaka as the main attraction is a suitable choice for the revival of the Brisbane International, which has not been held since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the event has consistently been a favorite among fans due to its impressive roster of past heavyweight champions, including Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios, and Victoria Azarenka.
Victoria Azarenka, ranked 22nd in the world for women’s tennis, has a 15-2 record at the Brisbane International and will be participating in the WTA 500 tournament alongside Osaka.
Revised: Andy Murray, a former top-ranked player and winner of three Grand Slam titles, will be competing in the men’s ATP 250 tournament. Other notable players include Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the 2017 Brisbane International champion, and up-and-coming Danish player Holger Rune.
Murray expressed excitement for the return of the Brisbane International and his anticipation for his upcoming trip to Queensland this summer.
I have fond recollections of being crowned champion in 2012 and 2013, and I am eager to once again hoist the trophy for a third time in Brisbane.
Nick Kyrgios informed organizers of the Brisbane International that he will take a “wait and see” approach, as they hold onto hope of his return from injury at the tournament where he previously excelled five years ago.
Kyrgios only participated in one match this year due to injuries in his wrist and back. These injuries have hindered his potential comeback in 2022, which included reaching the final at Wimbledon and making it to the quarter-finals at the US Open.
The 28-year-old is recovering from wrist surgery and has remained in touch with Brisbane tournament director Cam Pearson, who is confident his December 31-January 7 event is Kyrgios’s preferred comeback route.
Pearson stated that there have been numerous discussions regarding his readiness for January.
“We are still taking a wait and see approach, as Nick mentioned. We have one month left before entries are closed, giving Nick ample time to continue his rehabilitation. It would be wonderful to see him back on the court.”