"I'm glad playing a seed" - Naomi Osaka believes her next match won't be "as difficult" if she defeats Caroline Gracia in Australian Open 1R

Caroline Garcia and Naomi Osaka will locks horns at the Australian Open.
Caroline Garcia and Naomi Osaka will locks horns at the Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka will make her long-awaited return to the Grand Slam stage at the 2024 Australian Open against 16th seed Caroline Garcia in the first round.

The Japanese player returned to the sport after a 15-month hiatus that covered her maternity leave, winning a match at the Brisbane International before losing a three-set battle to Karolina Pliskova.

Speaking to the media at the pre-tournament press conference, the two-time Australian Open champion dubbed Garcia a “tough” opening-round opponent.

Osaka heaped praise on the Frenchwoman, saying she had every shot needed to be a top 5 player.

"Yeah, I think it's definitely tough, of course," Naomi Osaka said. "She's seeded. Whenever I play her, I always think she's an incredible player. She has every shot that a top-five player needs."

The 26-year-old, however, emphasised belief in her own game heading into the contest, saying she will look to dictate terms when she steps out on court for the highly anticipated first-round encounter.

"I don't know. Like my immediate thought was, Okay, this is tough, but I definitely think I can achieve what I want to achieve. Hopefully during the match I'm able to, I guess, have things go my way."

Osaka went on joke that she was glad to have been drawn against a seed, knowing that the road ahead would get easier if she was to win the match.

"Yeah, in a weird way I'm glad I'm playing a seed so that hopefully, if I get through that, the next match won't be as difficult," Naomi Osaka said.

"Super excited to be back" - Naomi Osaka on Australian Open return

Osaka oduring a practice session ahead of the 2024 Australian Open.
Osaka oduring a practice session ahead of the 2024 Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka landed in Melbourne after her second-round exit at the Brisbane International and has since been spotted hitting the practice courts at Melbourne Park with the likes of Ons Jabeur.

Sharing her excitement at being back at the Australian Open, where she has lifted two titles, Osaka said she was enjoying the nostalgia.

"Yeah, I mean, it's been really good. I've been able to hit with a couple players and kind of, I guess, feel the nostalgia again," Naomi Osaka said. But super excited to be back. It's been really fun so far."

Osaka is placed in the bottom half of the women’s draw, anchored by defending champion Aryna Sabalenka. Players in the bottom half are expected to take to court on Sunday and Monday for their first-round encounters.

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Edited by Siddharth Dhananjay
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