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Osaka ‘more confident’ since becoming a mother

Osaka ‘more confident’ since becoming a mother

Naomi Osaka says she is more open-minded, patient and confident in herself since giving birth to her daughter Shai in July.

The four-time Grand Slam champion will play German world number 84 Tamara Korpatsch in her comeback match in Brisbane next week.

It will be Osaka’s first match since September 2022.

“I think definitely becoming a mum changed my mindset a lot,” the Japanese 26-year-old said.

“I think I’m a lot more open-minded, a lot more patient. But, also, I feel a lot stronger, I don’t know physically, but I think Shai definitely helped me with the way I view things.

“I’m excited to be back. I haven’t worn headphones around the site since I’ve been back, so I think that’s character development.”

She continued: “I also feel like I’m more confident with who I am as a person. I never tried having conversations with other players before, and I think I definitely put a large wall up. Now I find myself interacting with people.”

Former world number one Osaka decided her five-month-old baby was too young to make this particular trip to Australia, but gives the impression she is very ready to return to the tour.

“I feel like I’m putting myself in the best position that I can right now,” she said.

“I think I’m playing pretty good, but I can’t compare myself to anything because I haven’t played a match. I’ve played practice sets against guys and I’ve won them, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

Angelique Kerber is another Grand Slam champion about to return after childbirth. The 35-year-old, who has won all the major titles except the French Open, is representing Germany in the United Cup mixed team competition.

Rafael Nadal is also on the comeback trail, and the 22-time Grand Slam champion will play a qualifier in the first round of the Brisbane International in what will be his first tournament since the 2023 Australian Open.

Spaniard Nadal injured his hip in Melbourne and eventually opted for surgery in June.

On Saturday the 37-year-old practised with Britain’s three-time major champion Andy Murray, who has drawn Bulgarian second seed Grigor Dimitrov in the first round in Brisbane.

“It’s great to have [Nadal] back playing,” Murray, 36, said.

“He’s obviously working extremely hard, like always. Always very, very intense practices with him. He looked physically good, was playing well.

“I didn’t get the opportunity to play that many sets and stuff in the off-season. It’s great for me to come out and get to play against him at that sort of intensity, play sets and matches against those guys.”

Fellow Briton Emma Raducanu, meanwhile, has drawn a qualifier in what will be her first match since minor operations on both hands and her left ankle in May.

The 2021 US Open champion was offered a wildcard for the WTA tournament in Auckland, and if she is able to win her first match would face either Caroline Wozniacki or Elina Svitolina in the second round.

The 2024 Australian Open starts in Melbourne on 14 January.

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