Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Day 2 preview: Osaka returns to Rod Laver Arena

  • Dan Imhoff

Watching the Australian Open on television from across the Pacific, two-time champion Naomi Osaka remembers a burning desire to once again feel the rush of competing before a packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.

The former world No.1 announced last January she would not make the trip to AO 2023 as she was expecting her first child.

When, if ever, she would return remained to be seen, but less than six months after the birth of daughter Shai, Osaka became the latest Grand Slam winner to mount a comeback.

MORE: Day 2 schedule of play 

On Monday night, the 26-year-old meets 16th seed Caroline Garcia in her RLA return - the first since she surrendered just four games to Madison Brengle in the second round at AO 2022.

Tempering expectations is now part of the challenge.

“Definitely it is hard because I do think of all the amazing memories that I've had,” Osaka said. 

DRAW: AO 2024 women's singles

“I also think in my head, who am I to just come back in the second tournament and expect so much from myself, especially against the best players in the world?”

A win in her first match back at the Brisbane International against Tamara Korpatsch before a three-set defeat to fellow former No.1 Karolina Pliskova gave Osaka ample cause for optimism in the lead-up.

One of only two Australian Open two-time champions in the women's draw, alongside Victoria Azarenka, she admitted her body had rebounded better than expected, despite having elected to pull out of a scheduled exhibition match against Emma Raducanu last week as a precaution.

Former world No.4 Garcia possesses the artillery to stop Osaka’s AO comeback in its tracks.

After a first major semifinal at US Open 2022 and WTA Finals triumph months later, however, the Frenchwoman almost slipped out of the top 20 last year.

Three years ago, Osaka dropped just five games against Garcia in the second round en route to her successful AO title defence.

A win for either would deliver a welcome boost in confidence.

“Whenever I play her, I always think she's an incredible player. She has every shot that a top-five player needs,” Osaka said.

“I don't know. Like my immediate thought was, ‘Okay, this is tough, but I definitely think I can achieve what I want to achieve’. Hopefully during the match I'm able to, I guess, have things go my way.

“In a weird way I'm glad I'm playing a seed so that hopefully, if I get through that, the next match won't be as difficult.”

DRAW: AO 2024 men's singles

After reeling off three straight top-10 victories over Taylor Fritz, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to leave the United Cup inside the top 10 for the first time, Alex de Minaur is looking to carry his form into the night’s opening match on RLA.

The 10th seed faces big-serving former world No.3 Milos Raonic in a dangerous first round.
De Minaur surprised the Canadian in their only prior meeting in Brisbane five years ago, but the pair has followed contrasting trajectories since. 

Alex de Minaur at Australian Open charity match

Women’s fourth seed Coco Gauff begins her first Slam as a major champion following her US Open breakthrough in September when she takes on Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

In the opening match on RLA on Monday, Gauff arrives having successfully defended her title in Auckland leading in. She carries a 2-0 record into the clash with the 29-year-old Slovak.

After reaching his second major final at Melbourne Park last year, seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas returns to RLA to open his AO 2024 campaign against Belgian lucky loser, world No.130 Zizou Bergs.

The Greek was due to face former world No.6 Matteo Berrettini before the Italian’s late withdrawal to a right foot injury.

Two-time Australian Open finalist and No.3 seed Daniil Medvedev also begins his bid on Monday against French qualifier Terence Atmane at Margaret Court Arena, while former US Open champion Dominic Thiem and former world No.6 Felix Auger-Aliassime search for a confidence-boosting win when they square off at the first hurdle at the same arena.

Wimbledon champion and seventh seed Marketa Vondrousova and her defeated opponent from last year’s final at Wimbledon, sixth seed Ons Jabeur, open against Ukrainian qualifiers Dayana Yastremska and Yuliia Starodubtseva, respectively.