QUEENSLAND tennis fans agonised with Naomi Osaka when she walked tearfully into a Serena Williams controversy, but they will have the chance to support Japan’s US Open winner when she plays in Brisbane this summer.
Osaka, 20, was named the first female entrant for the Brisbane International from December 31-January 6, which had previously announced world No.1 Rafael Nadal Japan’s world No.12 Kei Nishikori and Brisbane’s John Millman as men’s singles entrants.
Osaka unwittingly tore at the heartstrings of empathetic tennis fans around the world when she sobbed during her US Open trophy presentation after being booed by New York fans in the concluding games of her final.
They were enraged at a point penalty and game penalty levied against opponent Williams and Osaka felt moved to tell the crowd that she was “sorry it had to end like this’’.
“Since winning the US Open, I’ve had lots of messages of support from Australia so it will be special to play at Pat Rafter Arena in January,” Osaka said in a statement confirming her first Brisbane entry since 2016.
Brisbane tournament director Cameron Pearson said Osaka’s return to the Queensland Tennis Centre as a Grand Slam winner was a coup.
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“She won so many new fans by the way she played the US Open final and we know she will deliver more fantastic performances here in Queensland,” Pearson said
The New York-raised Japanese star shed tears again in the Tokyo final she lost last Sunday to Karolina Pliskova, saying later she was so tired that she would possibly take a short break from tournaments.
“I’ve literally never felt more tired in my entire life,” said Osaka, who broke into the top 10 to No.7 by winning her first Grand Slam singles title and the first by a Japanese player.
Osaka withdrew subsequently from this week’s $ 2.7 million Wuhan Open in China, citing a viral illness, and it’s not known yet when she will play again.
The power and energy in Osaka’s recent tennis will not have surprised any Australian who saw her overwhelm Ash Barty in the third round of the Australian Open last January.
Osaka started last summer’s Australian circuit with a first-round loss in Hobart before a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open which served notice of her future in the business ends of Grand Slam events.
Brisbane has been a frequent stop on the men’s tour for Japan’s 2014 US Open runner-up Nishikori and their season start in Brisbane will grab attention in Japan.
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