Osaka returns to French Open with questions over form, fitness

Naomi Osaka returns to Roland Garros looking to banish the memories of her withdrawal 12 months ago, but hampered by concerns over her clay-court form and fitness.

The former world number one pulled out of last year's French Open ahead of the second round, citing mental health issues.

She had been threatened with expulsion and fined by organisers over her refusal to attend press conferences.

Osaka then spent large parts of the remainder of the 2021 season off the court and has struggled this campaign with injury.

The Japanese star withdrew from last week's Italian Open to rest an Achilles problem and try to regain full fitness for the Grand Slam tournament in Paris, where she will be unseeded at a major for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open.

The 24-year-old has slipped to 38th in the WTA rankings going into Sunday's start of the French Open, but was as low as number 78 in March.

Osaka showed she could still compete for the biggest titles the following week, reaching the Miami Open final -- her first on the WTA Tour since the 2021 Australian Open -- before losing to world number one Iga Swiatek.