JUST IN: Naomi Osaka receives nigthmare first-round draw in Berlin

Osaka set for a very tough opening match in Berlin.

by Dzevad Mesic
JUST IN: Naomi Osaka receives nigthmare first-round draw in Berlin
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Berlin's first-round action is set to feature a blockbuster clash after four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka drew this year's Australian Open runner-up and No. 6 seed Zheng Qinwen. 

This week in 's-Hertogenbosch, Osaka made a solid start to her grass season as she made the quarterfinal before Bianca Andreescu edged her out in a thriller 6-4 3-6 7-6 (3). Now, Osaka is set to play her second grass tournament of the year in Berlin, while world No. 8 Zheng is set to start her grass season in the German capital.

When Osaka, 26, and 21-year-old Zheng clash against each other at a WTA 500 tournament in Berlin, it will be their third meeting and also their second meeting in the last month. After Osaka beat Zheng at the San Diego Open in 2022, the Chinese got her revenge this past May after ousting the Japanese 6-2 6-4 in the Rome Open round-of-16.

Zheng Qinwen
Zheng Qinwen © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Can Osaka beat Zheng and clinch her first top-10 win since returning to tennis?

When Osaka met Zheng in Rome, she was playing against a top-10 player for the first time since launching her post-pregnancy comeback. And after losing to Zheng in two sets, Osaka admitted that in the back of her mind, she was thinking about the fact that it was her first top-10 opponent of the year and that it impacted her mentally. 

"Yeah, I think it's been a while since I played a top-10 player. I don't know. I just felt like something drastically different is going to happen. I wasn't as experienced," Osaka said after losing to Zheng in Rome.

"I'm pretty I guess happy that I was able to play this match because I will learn a lot from it. I'll learn that the level's not that different. It's kind of just more key moments I would say, staying mentally very resilient in myself and my abilities.

"I think it just got to a point that I wasn't really too confident in myself. I think you could kind of see that. Then I picked it back up, of course, yeah."

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Since losing to Zheng, Osaka played against another top-10 player at the French Open when she missed out on a match point against Iga Swiatek. 

It remains to be seen if Osaka can beat Zheng in Berlin and earn her first top-10 of 2024 ahead of Wimbledon.

Naomi Osaka