By Emma Thurston
Naomi Osaka made a successful return to competitive tennis after two months away, while world No 1 Ashleigh Barty suffered a shock exit in the first round of the women’s singles competition in Tokyo.
Osaka, who was given the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony, defeated 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China 6-1 6-4 in her first-round contest.
The 23-year-old last played a match eight weeks ago, before pulling out of the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships on account of protecting her mental health.
In contrast to Osaka’s time away from the court, Barty arrived in Tokyo match-sharp off the back of securing a first Wimbledon title at the recent grass-court Grand Slam.
The Australian, who was making her Olympic debut, fell 6-4 6-3 to her 48th-ranked opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo and finished the match with a staggering 55 unforced errors.
The 25-year-old will now have to focus her attention on securing an Olympic medal in the doubles, alongside her partner Storm Sanders.
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