Osaka and Barty make winning start in Melbourne

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Melbourne

Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka made successful returns after long layoffs Tuesday, fine-tuning their preparations ahead of the Australian Open. In the night match, world number one Barty showed little rust to comfortably beat Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-3 in the Yarra Valley Classic. “I’ve missed coming out here competing but I felt great tonight,” she said.
The Australian played her first tournament in 11 months after opting to remain home in relatively Covid-19 free Queensland during the pandemic and even decided against defending her French Open crown.

Barty, hoping to break her country’s 43-year singles title drought at the Australian Open, was made to work early before pouncing on Bogdan’s tentative serve and she proved far too consistent for the Romanian. The 24-year-old plays world number 52 Marie Bouzkova next. Osaka made similarly light work of France’s Alize Cornet in the Japanese star’s first competitive match since winning the US Open for a second time.—AFP

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