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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday February 1, 2020


The last three women’s singles Grand Slam champions all took care of their business on Tuesday in Melbourne. Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin each advanced, earning themselves the privilege of playing at least one more competitive match before next week’s Australian Open begins.

Tennis Express

Osaka, a three-time major champion, played her first match since winning last year’s US Open, and dispatched France’s Alizé Cornet, 6-2, 6-2, for her 12th consecutive victory, at the Gippsland Trophy.

“For me it feels really good,” Osaka said. “I think because I haven't played a match since the finals in New York, I was definitely really nervous going into it. But I'm really happy with how positive I was throughout the match."

Moving into her second year with coach Wim Fissette, Osaka says she is developing a comfort level and hopes that her hard work during her extended off-season will pay off in Australia.

“I think the me from last year is very different from the me this year,” she said. “There's a lot of things I think I learned last year, and even a lot of things that I do differently with my new team. I feel like for me, I just really trust them a lot, so I talk to them a lot about how I feel, and that's not something that I used to do before. Also like I've had a three-month-long off season, so we definitely practiced a lot of things, and hopefully I'm able to do them well in my matches.”


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Swiatek fell behind by a set to Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in her first match since becoming the youngest woman to win Roland Garros in 28 years, but the Pole answered the bell and rallied past the 20-year-old, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, also at the Gippsland Trophy.

Swiatek’s winning streak ticks to eight with the victory, which she accomplished in 1:44.


Swiatek will face Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova next, while Osaka will take on Great Britain’s Katie Boulter.

Boulter rallied past Coco Gauff, even as the American served for the match at 5-4 in the second set on Tuesday.

At the Yara Valley Open, Kenin advanced when Camila Giorgi retired after dropping the first set 7-5.

The defending Australian Open champion is putting maximum effort into dealing with the pressure of defending a Grand Slam title for the first time, and she’s happy to have a quiet week in Melbourne to help loosen some of the nerves.

“Obviously it's really special,” she said. “Super glad to be here. Trying to somehow handle the emotions on court. I feel like it's going to be a little bit of a rollercoaster next Monday or Tuesday, whenever I play. I feel like you guys, the fans, will see a little bit more emotions. Now it's a little bit quiet, trying to get into the rhythm. Yeah, I'll somehow have to figure out a way to handle nerves of course for next week.”

Top-seeded Ashleigh Barty also was in the winner’s circle in Melbourne at the Yarra Valley Classic. The local hero toppled Romania’s Ana Bogdan, 6-3 6-3, in her first match since last February.

"This is one of my favorite places to play in the entire world, and for me to be able to come back after 11 or 12 months off now -- it’s been a while, but I miss this feeling, I miss coming out here and competing," Barty said on court after her victory.

 

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