Naomi Osaka won her opening round match at the Australian Open, but her simple straight sets victory was partly overshadowed by a bizarre new ritual of stepping over the Melbourne sign which sits beyond the baseline on Rod Laver Arena.
The reigning champion was clearly keen to avoid standing on the word at all costs, taking a pronounced large step over the sign and sometimes even re-tracing her steps when she wasn’t satisfied that she’d done it properly.
The ritual seemed to work for the two-time Australian Open winner though as she breezed into the second round courtesy of a 6-3 6-3 win over Camila Osorio.
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Osaka is fast cementing herself as the new queen of Melbourne Park, having taken out two of the last three women’s titles down under.
After her win, she expressed just how glad she was to be back in Australia and in Melbourne in particular.
“It definitely always feels special for me to come back here,” she told Nine’s Jelena Dokic after the win.
“I have a lot of really good memories here so it just feels really nice to always start the year in this tournament.
“I’m just really happy to be here and I’m really happy to see everyone in the audience and I hope that we gave you a really good performance.
“Whenever I come here everyone’s so warm and welcoming. You guys are all very nice, so I’m sure that has a really positive affect on me.”
Osaka also revealed that her outfit had a tribute to the city incorporated in the design.
“Apparently there’s like asymmetrical lines and it’s supposed to represent the Melbourne skyline in the city,” she said. “I also like the colour, I haven’t worn hot pink in a minute.”
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