The Japanese superstar who lit the Olympic cauldron on Sunday beat China’s Zheng Saisai, 52, 6-1, 6-4 in her first match in nearly two months.
Osaka hadn’t played since she pulled out of Roland Garros in May to take a mental health break, revealing she was suffering from depression. She then sat down at Wimbledon.
Osaka then stopped to speak to reporters, after saying in Paris that she felt “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting the media and that she would skip press conferences.
“More than anything, I just focus on tennis,” Osaka said. “The Olympics have been a dream of mine since I was a kid, so I felt like the break I took was really needed. I definitely feel a bit refreshed and happy again.
She added that she was “happy” that reporters were asking her questions, then added, “I feel a little out of my body right now. “
“There is nothing wrong with my body, I just felt very nervous,” Osaka said. “I haven’t played from France, so there are definitely things that I did a bit wrong, but I think I can improve in the games that I continue to play. “
Osaka, second in the standings, was quick from the start, serving up an ace on the T near the opening point and rushing to a 5-0 lead.
Wearing a bright red dress and a red visor and with her hair styled in red and white braids to match the colors of the Japanese flag sewn to the left side of her chest, Osaka served six aces in all and produced 25 winners at Zheng’s ten.
Osaka’s game was originally scheduled to open the tournament on Saturday, but was later pushed back a day before his starring role in Friday’s opening ceremony.
“I feel very, very proud,” Osaka said, revealing that Olympic organizers asked her to take care of the cauldron honors in March.
“When I lit the flame, I was very honored,” she added. “I think this is a position you dream of and no one can do it for me when they asked me if I wanted it, I was very surprised but very honored and I am just very happy to be here and very happy to play – especially in Tokyo.
Osaka will then face the Swiss Viktorija Golubic, 50th.
For the other top players in the Tokyo Games tennis tournament, it wasn’t that simple.
Top-ranked Ash Barty was upset by Spain’s 48th opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-3 and reigning two-time gold medalist Andy Murray withdrew from the singles due to a voltage to the right quad.
The two still remain in the doubles competition.
Barty won with Australian partner Storm Sanders on Saturday while Murray and British partner Joe Salisbury defeated the second-seeded French team of Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
Barty’s singles loss came 15 days after winning Wimbledon for his second Grand Slam title.
She struggled with 55 unforced errors against Sorribes Tormo’s 13 and only managed 54% of her first serves against 83% for her opponent.
Murray retired shortly before his opener against ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada on center court.
“I’m really disappointed to have to retire, but the medical staff advised me against participating in both events, so I made the difficult decision to retire from the singles and focus on the doubles with Joe,” said Murray.
This is the latest setback for Murray, 34, after a recent return to the tour after a three-month absence with a groin problem. He also had serious problems with a bad hip that ended up requiring two surgeries.
Murray has a total of three Olympic medals. He also won a mixed doubles silver medal at the London 2012 Games with Laura Robson.
Australia’s Max Purcell was due to play instead Auger-Aliassime.
Heat and humidity were problems again with the temperature hitting 91 degrees F (33 degrees C) and the sun scorching the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.
Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat France’s Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-3, while third seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus eliminated Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6- 1.
Carla Suarez Navarro, the Spaniard who plans to retire this year, beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-1 for her first victory since recovering from Hodgkin lymphoma.
Italy’s Camila Giorgi knocked out Jennifer Brady, the American who was the Australian Open finalist this year, 6-3, 6-2.
Among the men who advanced were Alexander Zverev of Germany, fourth seed, Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, seventh and Karen Khachanov, 12th seed, of the ROC.