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Naomi Osaka, feeling ‘refreshed,’ cruises in Olympic opener


Japan’s Naomi Osaka said she was feeling “refreshed” and ready to play after a dominant first-round win over China’s Zheng Saisai.

Osaka’s 6-1, 6-4 victory was the tennis legend’s first match and first win since taking a mental health break two months ago.

“More than anything else, I’m just focused on playing tennis,” Osaka said to reporters after the Sunday match.

“The Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, so I feel like the break that I took was very needed. I feel definitely a little bit refreshed, and I’m happy again.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my body; I just felt really nervous,” Osaka said. “I haven’t played since France, so there were definitely some things that I did a bit wrong, but I think I can improve in the matches that I continue playing.”

The four-time Grand Slam champion has not played a competitive match since the French Open in May, when she withdrew from after opening up about her mental health struggles.

She then also pulled out of Wimbledon.

Ahead of her first win for host country Japan, Osaka was chosen to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday night.

“I feel very, very proud,” Osaka said of her role in the opening ceremony, revealing that Olympic organizers asked her to handle the cauldron honors back in March.

Osaka will next face Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland.