We are almost to the return of the return, tennis fans. After being out for more than a year, Naomi Osaka participated in a couple of tournaments in Australia in January and while she lost two of three, she was competitive. Osaka is now set to play in the Abu Dhabi Open this week. If she wins her first match, the real fun begins.
Osaka received a wildcard to be able to enter the WTA 500 event without having to play in qualifying. In the first round on Monday, she will take on a qualifier. If she gets past that, she will take on top seed Elena Rybakina in round two. Rybakina will be favored, of course, but Osaka will at least get a good understanding of how her form currently matches up against the top players on the WTA tour.
Plus, Rybakina versus Osaka should be a must-watch for tennis fans. Hopefully, Osaka will be able to get back into the kind of form that won her four Grand Slams. But hopefully, Rybakina will also stay in that same kind of form.
Naomi Osaka returns again and Novak Djokovic's form
Emma Raducanu will also participate in the Abu Dhabi Open. She will enter as another wildcard. Raducanu already knows she will play Marie Bouzkova in the first round.
Speaking of players who have won Grand Slams, Novak Djokovic has 24 major titles. But he lost in the semifinals at the Australian Open and he did not play very well at the United Cup at the beginning of January. Is arguably the greatest player ever starting to slip? Tennis analyst Paolo Bertolucci thinks so.
Bertolucci told Italian website Fanpage in a recent interview, "He is a player who played badly in Australia, as in previous matches. (This year) we have never seen him in good condition. Now, if this is due to (an injury) that can happen, because it happens that someone doesn’t get his preparation right, or if the decline has begun, we will find out in the American (tournaments) between Indian Wells and Miami."
David de Gea trolls Daniil Medvedev
In funnier news, football star David de Gea recently trolled his good friend Daniil Medvedev over Medvedev's team losing in an esports contest. Medvedev is part owner of M80 while de Gea owns a team called Rebels Gaming. The two faced off against one another in Counter-Strike 2 and de Gea's team won. Medvedev, many tennis fans know, is a fan of gaming.
On X (the artist formerly known as Twitter), de Gea called out Medvedev saying, "Hope we are still friends bro." There is nothing wrong with some good-natured fun, right? Let's hope Medvedev saw it the same way. (I am guessing he did.)