Osaka makes her return against Zheng at Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo, July 22 (AP): Naomi Osaka’s first match in nearly two months will come against 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China in the opening round of the Olympic tennis tournament.
The second-seeded Osaka, who represents host Japan and is one of the top names at the Games, is returning to competition after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental health break.
Osaka holds a 2-1 career edge over Zheng. Their match will be the very first contest of the Games on center court Saturday.
The first seeded opponent that Osaka could face is No. 16 Kiki Bertens, who is playing the final tournament of her career. Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, is a possible quarterfinal opponent for Osaka.
In the men’s draw, top-ranked Novak Djokovic will open against No. 139 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.
Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to complete a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year.
Djokovic recently won Wimbledon for his 20th career Grand Slam title, after opening the year by winning the Australian and French Opens.
Draws were held Thursday — two days before play opens on the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.
Two-time defending Olympic champion Andy Murray received a tough opener against 15th-ranked Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada, who is seeded ninth.
Another intriguing first-round match features Kei Nishikori of Japan against fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev of ROC.
Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev opens against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas meets Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
Half of the top 10 men’s players are not in Tokyo, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov all missing for various reasons.
Serena Williams and Simona Halep are also not playing.
Top-seeded Ash Barty — the freshly crowned Wimbledon champion — will make her Olympic debut for Australia against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
Barty is also playing doubles with Storm Sanders.