Osaka's Brisbane comeback ended by big-serving Pliskova

Czech world number 39 defeats Japanese star 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 in second round

AFP January 03, 2024


Defending champion Karolina Pliskova used her big serve to full advantage to end Naomi Osaka's return to tennis in the second round of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.

Pliskova, who won the tournament the last time it was held in 2020, bounced back from losing the first set to grind down the Japanese star 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka had not played a tournament since September 2022, citing mental health concerns.

She had a baby daughter in July before deciding to make a comeback.

After an impressive first-round win over Germany's Tamara Korpatsch, Osaka started strongly against the 39th-ranked Pliskova, breaking the Czech's opening service game.

Pliskova, a two-time Grand Slam finalist, levelled but Osaka broke again to take a 4-2 lead then held on to bank the opening set.

The momentum began to shift in the second set as the tall Pliskova began to find the mark with her serve.

She won the second set tiebreak then got an early break in the third, holding on with ease to take the match in 2hr 13min.

"I thought I played quite well -- there are a lot of things to improve but it's a good start," said Pliskova, adding that after a first-round bye and having not played since September, she needed time to find her feet.

"You can practise as much as you want but in matches it's always a little bit different," she said.

"It's been a long break but I've been doing this sport for many, many years.

"I've been training for a couple of months and I think I'm in pretty good shape."


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