Australian Open 2024: Osaka loses, Gauff wins

Naomi Osaka’s highly anticipated Grand Slam return at the Australian Open ended in a narrow first-round defeat by France’s Caroline Garcia.

Two-time champion Osaka, at her first major since the US Open in September 2022 after giving birth last year, lost 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to the 16th seed.

While Osaka failed to create a break point, it was was an encouraging performance against a quality opponent.

Meanwhile, US Open champion Coco Gauff cruised through thanks to a pep talk.

The 19-year-old American, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September, won 6-3 6-0 against Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

“I told myself: ‘I feel good, I look good so just have fun.’ I was able to relax,” the fourth seed said.

But Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova suffered a shock exit on day two.

Vondrousova, ranked seventh in the world, became the highest seed to fall so far in round one, suffering a 6-1 6-2 defeat by Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska.

Afterwards, Yastremska said her grandmother’s house was recently hit by a rocket in the ongoing war in her home country.

The 23-year-old said the resistance showed by her country against the Russian invasion is what motivates her on court.

“To talk about what is going on in Ukraine in a couple of seconds is not enough,” she said in her on-court interview.

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