Osaka returns to tour with 3-set win over Gauff

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MASON, Ohio — Two days after a thoughtful exchange with a local sports columnist, Naomi Osaka delivered a more relevant statement on the court.

She’s back.

Down a set and a break to 17-year-old Coco Gauff, the second-ranked Osaka fought back Wednesday to pull out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at the Western & Southern Open, her first WTA Tour event since the French Open in late May.

Osaka appreciated being tested so quickly.

“It’s definitely been a while since I played a tough opponent in a three-set match,” she said. “It was definitely really tough, but I feel really good right now. I’m super excited to play another match.”

Citing discomfort with postmatch news conferences, the four-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from Roland Garros and skipped Wimbledon. She was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Tokyo Games after lighting the Olympic cauldron in her native Japan.

The 23-year-old Osaka is outspoken on many social issues and announced during Monday’s prematch media session that she would be donating her tournament prize money to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, her father’s homeland.

In other matches, top-ranked Ash Barty needed a second-set tiebreaker to beat Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6 (3) in a match postponed from Tuesday by rain. Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Simona Halep, the 12th seed, withdrew with a right thigh injury.

Men’s top seed Daniil Medvedev cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win in 59 minutes over wild card Mackenzie McDonald, and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray was eliminated by ninth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (4), 6-3.



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