The 25-year-old couldn’t have hoped for a better script for any potential entry she pens for January 17 as she won her opening match 6-3 6-3 against Colombian Camila Osorio on Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka, who is the 13th seed in this year’s draw, raced into a 5-0 lead in the opening set on Monday before some spirited play from 20-year-old Osorio and a few unforced errors allowed her a route into the match.
The Japanese star did eventually manage to clinch the first set. In the second set, Osorio had two early break points but was unable to take advantage.
Osaka broke into a 3-1 lead and a stray Osorio backhand into the net finally gave Osaka the victory to get her title defense off to the perfect start.
She added: “I hope that we gave you a really good performance. It always feels very special for me to come back here. I have a lot of really good memories here.”
Osaka will face Madison Brengle in the second round after the American advanced when Dayana Yastremska retired trailing 1-6 6-0 0-5.
The four-time grand slam champion said she is prioritizing her enjoyment on the court during her time in Melbourne.
“I accept the fact that I’ll have dips, and I need to figure out a way to overcome it.”
Could this be the year?
The Spaniard beat Marcos Giron 6-1 6-4 6-2 in just one hour, 49 minutes to advance to the second round in Melbourne.
In what was his 70th win at the competition, Nadal continued his fast start to 2022 on the Rod Laver Arena.
Having missed the end of the 2021 season thanks to a foot injury, Nadal won the Melbourne Summer Set title two weeks ago, his first tournament win on Australian soil since the Australian Open in 2009.
And the 35-year-old maintained his good form against Giron, a dominant 24-minute first set setting the tone.
Nadal continued to keep his foot down throughout, breezing past world No. 66 Giron without too much fuss.
And he stressed the importance of winning last week at the Melbourne Summer Set after beating Giron.
“And I think I am doing better and better. You never know what’s going on, but I’m happy if you tell me I’m going to be in this position one month ago, of course without a doubt I would sign the paper (smiling).
“At the beginning (of a comeback), things are going to be difficult, of course you will not have the best feelings sometimes on court.
“But staying positive, playing with the right energy, and of course being on the tour practicing with the guys, and winning matches, for sure helps.”
Sixth seed Nadal will now face the winner of the match between wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis and qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the second round.