Comeback temporarily averted: Naomi Osaka loses to Karolina Pliskova in second round of Brisbane International

Osaka won the first set but Pliskova, the three-time Brisbane International Champion mounted a big comeback
2024 Brisbane International: Day 4
2024 Brisbane International: Day 4 / Bradley Kanaris/GettyImages

In the second match of her comeback after maternity leave, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was defeated by three-time Brisbane International champion Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova had a first-round bye so this was her first match of the year. In the first set, she dealt with serving issues and double faults, but cleaned all of it up for the second and third sets.

Osaka was not as sharp as she was on Monday night in her straight-set win over Tamara Korpatsch. She had more unforced errors, and her serving was not as steady. Osaka also struggled to defend a powerful Pliskova serve that repeatedly went down the T that she could not get a beat on. This was arguably the best match Pliskova has played in years.

This is part of the growing pains of coming back after a long layoff. Though Osaka would like to have had more match play this week in preparation for the Australian Open, she can take away plenty of positives. Her shots and serve are good, and she maintained a high level of play through a long three-set match.

Can Naomi Osaka bounce back from her first loss of 2024?

Pliskova, 31, and Madison Keys, 28, are the two players in their age group (late 20s to early 30s) who are regarded as among the best to never win a Grand Slam. Both are experienced Grand Slam semifinalists and finalists but have never hoisted the winning trophy.

Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys
Western & Southern Open - Day 3 / Robert Prange/GettyImages

Pliskova's strong start in 2024 enters her name into the conversation of a highly competitive group of women on the WTA Tour that can compete with the Top 10 players. That group could also include Grand Slam champions Osaka, Angelique Kerber, who is also coming back from maternity leave, and Emma Raducanu, returning from injury.

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