Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori have been doing big things to increase the interest in tennis in Asia, most recently starring in a commercial for Japanese food company Nissin's Cup Noodles.
Despite Osaka's shyness at getting close with established stars like the 29-year-old Nishikori, she's made big strides as her star has risen, even joining him on court for an exhibition during the offseason.
Don’t let this distract you from the fact that we lost 4-0 lol ???? pic.twitter.com/597t33i1tx— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) November 27, 2018
Osaka began her 2019 season in Brisbane, where she reached the semifinals before falling to Lesia Tsurenko. The 20-year-old was brutally honest about her finish there, before pulling out of Sydney:
Had the worst attitude on court today.Sorry to everyone that watched.I keep telling myself to be more mature but seems it’ll take a while.— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) January 5, 2019
Nishikori was also in Brisbane, where he snapped a nine-final losing streak to win his first ATP title since 2016.
At No. 4, Osaka will be seeded four spots higher than Nishikori at the Australian Open. She opens agains Magda Linette while Nishikori will take on a qualifier.
This Week on Tennis Channel and Tennis Channel Plus
ATP/WTA Sydney (1/5 to 1/12)
• Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur, Ashleigh Barty and Petra Kvitova headline the Sydney International. Watch live coverage on Tennis Channel Plus.
WTA Hobart (1/5 to 1/11)
• Watch the action from the Hobart International featuring Belinda Bencic and Alize Cornet.
ATP Auckland (1/6 to 1/11)
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AO Qualifying Rounds (1/8 to 1/11)
• Australian Open officially begins with qualifying action. Tennis Channel Plus has fall the action live! Coverage begins Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 6:00 pm ET.