"I see her smiling more": Aryna Sabalenka has different more relaxed aura says Naomi Osaka on return to tour life

Former world number one Naomi Osaka has stated that the biggest difference she noticed in the current world number two Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka is her positive energy in the Australian Open.

The 25-year-old successfully defended her crown in Melbourne as she defeated China’s Qinwen Zheng in straight sets in the final of the mega-event with a score of 6-3, 6-2.

Osaka, who recently returned to the court after a gap of more than one year, was recently quoted in a report where she stated that the biggest difference she noticed this year was the positive energy around Sabalenka.

"The biggest difference that I’ve seen since coming back on tour, granted I have my headphones off now, it’s just she has a different energy around her, I see her smiling more. So that’s really nice and it’s really just cool to see,” she said.

"I've always felt like she was a player that people didn’t really want to play. And that’s something that’s very powerful. I'm not really surprised by any of this. I feel like there’s players that people talk about and when you see them achieve their potential, it’s not surprising. It’s just kind of more of a 'time can only tell' moment."

Osaka’s own return did not go as planned as she lost in the first round of the Australian Open to France’s Caroline Garcia with a score of 6-4, 7-6.

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