Tennis fans erupt over Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty announcement

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Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty, pictured here on the tennis court.
Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty will both be in action at the Montreal Open. Image: Getty

Organisers for the Montreal Open have announced that Naomi Osaka will make her return to the WTA tour at the US Open lead-up event next month.

Osaka and World No.1 Ash Barty have been confirmed in a star-studded field for the August 9-15 hard-court event that currently features 18 of the WTA's top 20 players.

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Organisers said Osaka, Wimbledon champion Barty, World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka, former winner Elina Svitolina and defending champion Bianca Andreescu are among those who have confirmed their participation.

"We are delighted to welcome the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, as well as Bianca Andreescu, who we know will get a reception for the ages from our passionate fans in Montreal," tournament director Eugene Lapierre said in a news release.

It will mark Osaka's first WTA event since withdrawing during the French Open due to mental health reasons.

The Japanese superstar will make her competitive return to tennis at the Tokyo Olympics, but Montreal will be her first WTA event.

The World No.2 - a four-time grand slam champion - also withdrew from Wimbledon to focus on her mental health.

Fans were overjoyed by the prospect of seeing Osaka back in action alongside biggest rival Barty.

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The 2020 edition of the Montreal Open was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Andreescu won the event two years ago when it was held in Toronto before going on to become Canada's first grand slam singles champion at that year's US Open.

"As a Canadian, this tournament has a special place in my heart and it is always such a pleasure to play in front of the best fans in the world," World No.5 Andreescu said in a news release.

"Winning the National Bank Open in 2019 was a dream come true, and I hope I can defend the title next month in Montreal."

Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty, pictured here on the practice court at the French Open.
Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty on the practice court at the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Osaka and Barty to compete at Tokyo Olympics

Barty is promising to "give it a crack" as she eyes one of the most elusive feats in tennis at the looming Tokyo Olympics.

Only Suzanne Lenglen (1920), Steffi Graf (1988), Venus Williams (2000), Serena Williams (2012), Rafael Nadal (2008) and Andy Murray (2016) have completed the Wimbledon-Olympic double in the same season.

And Barty can join that illustrious list if she triumphs in Tokyo.

Barty's life-changing triumph in the Wimbledon final over Karolina Pliskova has left the 25-year-old halfway towards a career slam following her 2019 French Open success.

Next up is the Tokyo Games starting on July 23, with the tennis getting under way on day two.

"I'm so excited to be a part of my first Olympic team and the Aussie team," Barty said on Monday while cradling the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"We're 480-strong and to be a part of that for the first time in what will be the most unique Olympic Games ever will be awesome."

Asked if she could win gold, Barty said: "I'll give it a crack, like everyone else will be, but I'll certainly be giving it my all."

with agencies

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