ANDY MURRAY claimed Naomi Osaka’s significant role in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony was great news for the image of tennis worldwide.
Osaka, 23, the most recognisable sportswomen in Japan, lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday night, signalling the start of these 16-day troubled Games.
It was a moment watched by billions round the world on TV – there were no fans present due to Covid – and it was her first appearance in public since quitting last month’s French Open following a media boycott.
World no.2 Osaka is due to play China’s Zheng Saisai in the first round on Sunday and the locals will be watching her every move for the next week of competition.
She was originally scheduled to play on Saturday, but that match was moved because of her opening ceremony role.
Murray, 23, said: “I actually didn’t see that part of it, we were in bed.
“But obviously it’s fantastic for her, great for tennis that she was able to do that.
“I think everyone had a bit of an idea it was going to happen when her match got moved.
“It’s great for tennis that she is the face of the Games here and hopefully she can do well in front of – well it’s not in front of a crowd really, but on home soil.”
Murray and Joe Salisbury stunned French No 2 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in their opening round doubles match on Saturday.
OLYMPICS BETTING SPECIAL: GET ADAM PEATY TO WIN ANY MEDAL IN THE BREASTROKE AT 20/1
DREAM TEAM IS BACK! SIGN UP NOW FOR THE 21/22 SEASON FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN £100,000
Under a scorching midday Tokyo sun, on an empty Court 5, the Brit pair knocked out No.2 French seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-2.
Hubert had to withdraw from the Wimbledon second round with an injury but that should not take away from the Brits’ performance, especially as their opponents were going for the career Grand Slam together.
Murray, 34, won singles gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, and also has a silver medal in mixed doubles on his stellar record.
Next up they will face Germans Kevin Krawietz and Tim Putz while Murray has singles action to negotiate against his US Open tormentor Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.
Dream Team 2021/22
PLAY DREAM TEAM FOR THE 2021/22 SEASON!
- £100,000 in prize money up for grabs
- £50million budget to build your best XI
- Play in Mini Leagues against your mates, colleagues, etc
- Click here to play for FREE
- Dream Team app available through Apple Store and Google Play Store
192 total views, 2 views today