Australian Open: Naomi Osaka fights well but falls short in return to Melbourne Park

Osaka suffered a two-set defeat to Caroline Garcia in the Australian Open first round.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Australian Open: Naomi Osaka fights well but falls short in return to Melbourne Park
© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter

Naomi Osaka exited the Australian Open in the first round after losing to Caroline Garcia in her first post-pregnancy match at the Grand Slam level. 

On Monday, two-time Australian Open champion Osaka made her return to Melbourne Park by taking on former world No. 4 Garcia. In her return to Rod Laver Arena, Osaka competed extremely well and fought hard but still fell short to Garcia as the 2022 WTA Finals champion beat the Japanese 6-4 7-6 (2). 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer
 

In the fifth game, Osaka blew two consecutive game points before Garcia earned her first break point and realized it to go 3-2 up. Garcia missed out on two consecutive break points in the seventh game but one break of serve was enough for the Frenchwoman, who served out for the first set in the 10th game. 

After not a single break point was seen in the second set, a tie-break was needed to resolve the set. Through the opening four points of the tie-break, the two players were tied to two points apiece. What was a pretty tight second set without much separating the two, ended with Garcia winning the next five points and completing a two-set win over Osaka. 

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Phil Walter
 

Osaka loses, Coco Gauff off to a winning start at the Australian Open

Meanwhile, reigning US Open champion Gauff got off to a commanding start to her Australian Open campaign, beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. 

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

Throughout the entire first set, there wasn't much consistency on serve on either side. In the first game of the match, Gauff routinely served out her opening service game. 

Stunningly, in the next seven games as many breaks of serve were seen as Gauff held a 5-3 lead, thanks to the opening service game she was able to win. In the ninth game, Gauff managed to serve out for the first set and end a series that saw breaks of serve in seven consecutive games.

After struggling a bit on her serve in the first set, Gauff looked untouchable in the second set as the fourth-seeded American bageled Schmiedlova to complete a two-set win. In the second set, Gauff converted 3-of-5 of her break point opportunities and didn't face a single break point. 

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer
 

In her next match at Melbourne Park, Gauff will be facing American Caroline Dolehide for the second time in her career. Previously, Gauff beat Dolehide in Lexington four years ago.

Australian Open Naomi Osaka Caroline Garcia
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