Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Naomi Osaka won her opening round match at the Australian Open, but her simple victory in straight sets was partially overshadowed by a bizarre new ritual of stepping over the Melbourne sign, which sits beyond the baseline at Rod Laver Arena.

The reigning champion was clearly keen to avoid standing on the floor at all costs, taking a pronounced big step over the sign and sometimes even tracing her steps again when she was not happy that she had done it properly.

The ritual seemed to work for the double winner of the Australian Open as she entered the second round thanks to a 6-3 6-3 victory over Camila Osorio.

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Osaka is rapidly cementing itself as the new queen of Melbourne Park, having taken two of the last three women’s titles down under.

After her victory, she expressed how happy she was to be back in Australia and in Melbourne in particular.

“It certainly always feels special for me to come back here,” she told Nine’s Jelena Dokic after the victory.

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“I have a lot of 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 we’ve given you a really good performance.

“When I come here, everyone is so warm and welcoming. You are all very sweet, so I’m sure it has a really positive impact on me.”

Osaka also revealed that her outfit had a tribute to the city incorporated into the design.

“Apparently there are asymmetrical lines, and it’s meant to represent the Melbourne skyline of the city,” she said. “I also like the color, I have not used hot pink for a minute.”

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