Naomi Osaka to play in 2024 Australian Open?

SYDNEY, Oct 13: Organisers of the Australian Open (AO) have announced that a plethora of superstars are set to make their comeback to Melbourne Park at the start of 2024, including former champion Naomi Osaka.  

Following maternity leave, a trio of AO women’s singles champions – Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki – are planning triumphant returns to the court and might potentially upset the newly established order, according to a statement released by AO on Thursday.

“We are delighted to welcome back these amazing women, Naomi, Angie and Caroline, who’ve lit up the Australian Open and impressed fans with their athleticism, resilience, and their sportsmanship,” commented Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley.

“They will find the landscape has changed somewhat since they reigned supreme,” he noted, as the 2023 season has borne witness to the rise of many female players.

The No.1 singles title changed hands from Iga Swiatek of Poland to reigning AO champion Aryna Sabalenka, whose ascent ended Swiatek’s 75-week dominance at the top spot since April 2022.

In the recently concluded US Open, the 19-year-old American Coco Gauff overcame Sabalenka, clinching her first Grand Slam trophy before over 20,000 tennis fans.

“The combination of great champions of our game returning, combined with the emergence of exciting young talents, promises an Australian Open with unmatched unpredictability and excitement,” remarked Tiley.

At Wednesday’s AO launch event, the tournament director also told reporters that the organisers have been staying in touch with the 22-time major winner Rafael Nadal and Australia’s home favourite Nick Kyrgios.

“If you follow him on social media, and watch him closely, there’re shots of him hitting… you always get your hopes up because you want people like Rafa to be here,” Tiley added.

“Obviously, there’s a little bit of time between now and January. If he stays healthy, that’s important, but so far, the early signs have been really good,” he noted.

In response to Tiley’s remark, the legendary Spaniard expressed his appreciation for “the vote of confidence” on social media. “I am practising every day and working hard to come back ASAP,” Nadal wrote.

Meanwhile, in Kyrgios’ case, Tiley voiced his personal belief in the 28-year-old Australian who was “motivated to come back and play in January”.

“He knows everyone wants him to play. It’s just a matter of his health,” Tiley said. “He’s had a significant injury and in many cases for many athletes, it can be a career-ending injury.”

Revealing that Kyrgios is still in the process of getting over his injury, the tournament director “fully expect(s)” him to be ready to play at the 2024 tournament and provide tennis lovers with entertainment.