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Reunited with her Dad, Naomi Osaka Wins San Jose Return

Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts in San Jose, California. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Tap-dancing inside the baseline, Naomi Osaka was a woman in motion even when the ball wasn’t in play.

An eager and energetic Osaka hit the ground running in her San Jose return tonight.

Osaka drilled 11 aces and denied seven of eight break points defeating talented teenager Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in her San Jose opener.

It was Osaka’s first match since she lost to Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-4 in her Roland Garros opener on May 23rd.

On a day that saw American Shelby Rogers sweep 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 6-4, 6-2, Osaka looked pumped to play and said she was pleased with her performance.

“It’s really cool to be back playing,” Osaka told Andrew Krasny in her on-court interview. “I haven’t played since May/ I didn’t know that, but someone told me that.

“It’s really good to be back. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of good matches in this tournament so it will be fun.”

An Achilles injury knocked Osaka out of the entire grass-court season. She split with coach Wim Fissette last month and arrived in San Jose with just 17 matches on the season and a trusted ally at her side. 

This is Osaka’s first tournament reuniting with her father and original coach, Leonard François, as her “head coach.”

In this comeback match, Osaka moved fluidly, permitted just eight points on first serve and delivered some courageous serving strikes to erase break points tonight. Back on her favored hard courts, Osaka looked completely comfortable in a high-quality comeback.

Osaka played like vintage Osaka. More importantly, she looked happy to be competing and smiled several times on court. Afterward, Osaka credited her father for infusing positive energy and reconnecting her with her roots.

“My dad, he’s the guy with the sunglasses, this is our first tournament back together and it’s really good for him to be back because he always makes me smile,” Osaka said. “He’s always telling me: ‘You’re a tennis player. play tennis.’

“Like I know that you know what I mean. It feels really good to be back so I’ m just really happy.”