TOKYO — There have been by no means any questions on Naomi Osaka’s potential on the tennis courtroom when she took a two-month psychological well being break.
Particularly on laborious courts — the floor getting used on the Tokyo Olympics and the floor on which Osaka has received all 4 of her Grand Slam titles.
The Japanese celebrity crushed winners off each wings — forehand and backhand — seemingly at will in a 6-3, 6-2 win over Forty ninth-ranked Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland on Monday to achieve the final 16 on the Ariake Tennis Park.
It was just like the way in which Osaka overwhelmed Zheng Saisai of China a day earlier and it prolonged her momentum after finishing up the last word honor on the Video games’ opening ceremony by lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Osaka was requested in March to deal with the cauldron honors however mentioned she “did not really feel stress” concerning the task.
“I felt extra pleasure,” Osaka mentioned. “It was like a way of responsibility, like one thing I wished to perform.”
Two extra wins and Osaka will probably be in line for extra honors – an Olympic medal.
“Undoubtedly it could imply so much for me however I do know it is a course of,” Osaka mentioned of her prospects of profitable a medal for the host nation. “So I am attempting to take it one match at a time. All in all I am simply actually comfortable that I am right here. I have not been in Tokyo for like an entire yr.”
That is Osaka’s first occasion since she withdrew from the French Open in Might to take a psychological well being break, revealing that she has handled melancholy. She then sat out Wimbledon.
In windier, cooler and extra overcast circumstances than the sweltering opening two days of the competitors, Osaka compiled 29 winners to Golubic’s 14 and had solely 11 unforced errors to her opponent’s 21.
Maybe extra telling was that Osaka required solely 65 minutes to dispatch a participant coming off a quarterfinal look at Wimbledon.
Osaka took management with a break for a 5-3 lead within the opening set, slapping her left thigh earlier than returning serve to get herself motivated after which crushing a forehand cross-court winner to conclude the sport.
Two extra breaks adopted initially of the second set and Osaka cruised from there.
Whereas the Ariake Coliseum is empty of spectators like all occasions on the Tokyo Video games due to the pandemic, the photographers’ pit throughout Osaka’s matches is busy as ever together with her each transfer documented.
The second-ranked Osaka will subsequent face both 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic or Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.
Later, top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia was to play Forty eighth-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in his quest for a Golden Slam.