WATCH: Osaka won her first match of the North American summer in San Jose over Chinese youngster Zheng Qinwen.


Naomi Osaka made a winning return to action at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic with a new but familiar team: the former world No. 1 recently parted ways with longtime coach Wim Fissette and is back to working with father Leonard Francois for what she hopes will be a fun week in San Jose.

“My dad’s right there,” she said on court to Andrew Krasny after her 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Zheng Qinwen. “He’s the guy wearing sunglasses even though it’s dark outside!”

Osaka and older sister Mari learned the game from their father, who the four-time major champion has often joked gets too nervous to watch her matches. The two briefly teamed up in 2019 to great success as Osaka won back-to-back titles in Tokyo and Beijing.

“He doesn't like watching my matches,” she said at the time. “I think it stresses him out because he, like, twitches every time I hit a ball.

"He said he'll take the [coaching] role very seriously, but I don't think it's a long-term thing.”

Osaka was last on court at Roland Garros, where she endured a first-round defeat to Amanda Anisimova. Kicking off her US Open preparation in San Jose with a Yonex racquet her sister designed, the 24-year-old withstood a solid test from Zheng, who defeated Simona Halep en route to the second week in Paris.

Despite the win, Osaka couldn’t resist teasing her dad in the stands on Tuesday.

“He hasn’t been around in a little minute so this is our first tournament back together. It’s really good for him to be back because he always makes me smile. I don’t know why, but he’ll tell me things like, ‘You’re a tennis player. Play tennis!’ Like, I know that, you know what I mean?”

Team Osaka moves on to the second round, where Naomi will face another challenge in No. 6 seed and Roland Garros runner-up Coco Gauff.