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Naomi Osaka: Will the two-time champion play at the 2024 Australian Open?

Naomi Osaka announced she was leaving tennis for a year just before the last Australian Open, but the Japanese two-time champion is planning to be in the field for the first Grand Slam of 2024 following maternity leave.

The 26-year-old will be looking to add to her tally of four Slams in Melbourne, just six months after giving birth to daughter Shai.

She is 11/1 to claim the title, with the tournament starting on Sunday 14th January.

Naomi Osaka - Titles to date

Osaka turned professional just before her 16th birthday in September 2013 and she has reached 11 WTA finals, winning seven of them.

Her first final appearance came in September 2016 when she lost to Caroline Wozniacki at the Pan Pacific Open, and she had to wait until March 2018 for her first win - at the Indian Wells Open where she beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2.

The first of her four Grand Slam successes came the following September when she beat Serena Williams 6-2 6-4 to win the US Open, with another big success arriving a few months later when she came through a titanic struggle against Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open, eventually prevailing 7-6 5-7 6-4.

Wins at the Pan Pacific Open and China Open followed with two more slam successes.

Osaka came from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka to win her second US Open in 2020 and then celebrated another victory down under the following February when she beat Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3.

What are Naomi Osaka's strengths?

Osaka plays a form of power tennis associated with her idols, the Williams sisters.

The Japanese star has a fierce serve that has been measured at 125mph and plays aggressively from the baseline, hitting flat groundstrokes deep into the court that can cause her opponents plenty of problems.

Her strong forehand is a potent weapon, although she admits she does not hit it as hard as she can through fear she would not be able to keep the ball in play.

Has Naomi Osaka won Wimbledon?

Osaka has never won Wimbledon, or any other professional tournament on grass.

She has appeared in the main draw at SW19 three times, making her debut in 2017, when she got to the third round before losing 7-6 6-4 to Venus Williams, who went on to lose to Garbine Muguruza in the final.

Osaka reached the same stage the following year where she fell 6-2 6-4 to tournament winner Angelique Kerber.

The Japanese star was world number one when she entered Wimbledon in 2019 as second seed, but she was beaten in her opening match by Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.

Has Naomi Osaka retired?

No, Naomi Osaka has not retired, although she has taken breaks from tennis before to manage her mental health.

She announced shortly before the last Australian Open that she was taking a break from the game to have a baby and she gave birth to her daughter, Shai, in July.

The intention was always there to return to competitive tennis at the end of 2023.

Is Naomi Osaka making a comeback?

Yes, the comeback is on.

Osaka will make her first appearance in almost a year when she plays in the Brisbane International in preparation for an attempt to win her third Australian Open title.

Is Naomi Osaka playing at the Australian Open?

Naomi Osaka will be lining up in the Australian Open under a WTA protected ranking, which takes into account a player’s mark before they underwent a long absence from the game, whether that was a result of injury or pregnancy.

The tournament starts on Sunday 14th January and Osaka is 11/1 to win her third title in Melbourne. 

World number one Iga Swiatek is the 11/4 favourite, while her closest rival in the rankings and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka is available at 9/2

What is Naomi Osaka’s ranking?

Osaka starts her comeback as an unranked player, but she is able to play in the Australian Open and other tournaments as part of the WTA’s provisional rankings scheme, due to her year-long maternity absence.

Her provisional ranking is 46, which was her mark before he took a step away from the game.

She can use that mark to enter 12 tournaments during the next year, which will not include any that she qualifies for or is handed a wildcard entry.

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