Naomi Osaka Wins Her First 2021 US Open Match, Defeats Marie Bouzkova in 2 Straight Sets

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Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka

Sarah Stier/Getty

Naomi Osaka has one victory in her quest to defend her US Open title.

At Flushing Meadows on Monday, the 23-year-old tennis star, who represents Japan, defeated Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic by winning the two straight sets in the opening match of the year's final Grand Slam tournament.

No. 3 seed Osaka, who is hoping to win her fifth Grand Slam title overall, won last year's US Open as well as the 2018 New York tournament while Bouzkova, 23, is the 2014 US Open junior girls' singles champion.

"It's an incredible energy. There's going to be a crowd this year. I'm honestly just excited to be here. I really love New York, and hopefully I stay for the full two weeks," Osaka said ahead of the match, according to the tournament.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka

Sarah Stier/Getty

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Following her win, Osaka thanked a young fan in the crowd by running over and gifting her a special token from the Olympics.

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In her post-match interview, Osaka explained, "I just heard her when I was playing my match, and she was so cute. Thank you for cheering me on. In the Olympics, we got little pins we were supposed to pass around to other players, like trading pins. I wasn't there for a long time so I have a couple in my bag leftover. I thought it would be a nice little memory."

Osaka has not reached a quarterfinal match since the Miami Open in March, and lost in the third round of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics to Czech pro Marketa Vondrousova, who went on to win silver.

The evening prior to Monday's match, Osaka shared a candid message about wanting to "celebrate myself and my accomplishments more."

Posting a carousel of photos and videos of "some tennis memories over the past year that mean a lot to me," Osaka began her Instagram caption by stating that she's been doing a lot of "reflecting."

"So grateful for the people around me because the support I feel is completely unparalleled," Osaka shared. Recently she said she's been asking herself, "Why do I feel the way I do," adding that she realizes "one of the reasons is because internally I think I'm never good enough."

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She revealed that despite her many accomplishments, she's "never" told herself "good job." Instead, "I do know I constantly tell myself that I suck or I could do better," she added. "I know in the past some people have called me humble but if I really consider it I think I'm extremely self deprecating. Every time a new opportunity arises my first thought is, 'wow, why me?' "

But recently, Osaka had a change of perception.

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"I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm gonna try to celebrate myself and my accomplishments more, I think we all should," she wrote, encouraging her fans to also cherish the smallest of wins.

"You got up in the morning and didn't procrastinate on something? Champion. Figured something out at work that's been bugging you for a while? Absolute legend," she continued. "Your life is your own and you shouldn't value yourself on other people's standards."