Naomi Osaka, the reigning US champion, has endured a difficult season but is ready for the spotlight on her return to Flushing Meadows.
Naomi Osaka arrived at last year’s US Open a dangerous floater buoyed by a season of promise and left it as one of the world’s most visible sportspeople after winning her maiden grand slam title in one of the most controversial finals in the tournament’s centuries-spanning history.
One year on the world No 1 returns to the scene of her signature triumph beset by injury and weighed down by an entirely new set of expectations but no less empowered by the quiet confidence that has lifted her to the summit of women’s tennis.
The 21-year-old enters among the shortlist of betting favourites as the defending champion and top seed in the women’s draw at the tournament, which kicks off here on Monday morning.
Roger Federer says he is mentally and physically ready for US Open.
But since backing up last year’s breakthrough run at Flushing Meadows compellingly with an Australian Open title in January that lifted her to the top of the WTA rankings, Osaka has weathered an extended rocky patch including early exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, followed by a knee injury that cut short a crucial runway event in the Cincinnati quarter-finals.***
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