TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Naomi Osaka sent a worrying message to competitors in the Tokyo Games on Monday, passing Viktorija Golubic 6-3 6-2, 50th, to secure a place in the third round.
The second seed from Japan has been in impressive form this week, returning to competition after a two-month hiatus and embracing her role as one of the Games’ host nation’s most distinguished ambassadors.
Winning Olympic gold at home would be the icing on the cake, although Osaka has said she is determined not to look too far ahead.
âWell you know it would definitely mean a lot to me to win gold here, but I know it’s a process,â she said.
âYou know they’re the best players in the world and honestly I haven’t played in a while so I’m trying to keep it one game at a time. Overall I’m really happy to be here. “
Osaka had not played a game since his withdrawal after the first round of Roland Garros in May, amid controversy over his decision to skip mandatory press conferences during the tournament in a bid to protect his sanity.
She made her first public appearance since the withdrawal by lighting the Olympic cauldron during the Games’ opening ceremony last week, a task she described as a sense of duty to Japan.
âHonestly, I didn’t feel pressured. For me, I felt more excitement, it was like a sense of duty, like something I wanted to accomplish.â
The 23-year-old was relentless in her match against Golubic, barely troubled on serve in the first set and won four straight to start the second.
Switzerland managed to keep their serve afterwards, but couldn’t resist the onslaught of the world number two.
Osaka took the win with a powerful forehand to set up a meeting with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu or Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
(Report by Rozanna Latiff)