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Business trends

Naomi Osaka's Aussie win serves an ace for Japan tennis goods

Citizen Watch and Adidas sell out of products sported by new world No. 1

Japanese sales of apparel worn by tennis star Naomi Osaka soared after her Australian Open championship win this weekend, as did sign-ups for tennis schools.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Naomi Osaka's second straight Grand Slam victory propelled her to the top of the global tennis rankings -- and sparked a sales bonanza for sportswear makers and sponsors in her home country of Japan.

Osaka, a brand ambassador for Citizen Watch, sported the company's Eco-Drive Bluetooth timepiece during Saturday's Australian Open final. By the next day, that model -- which hits stores March 7 and costs 75,000 yen ($686) before taxes -- sold out its entire run of 1,000 preorders that began Jan. 14.

Sportswear maker Adidas Japan's online store likewise has sold out apparel worn by the star athlete after it appeared on the site Jan. 16.

Some aim to ride the fervor with special sales events. Sporting goods retailer Xebio Holdings is running a promotion celebrating Osaka's win through Feb. 11 at a major Tokyo outlet, where "inquiries have doubled" about products related to the world's new top-ranked player, according to a representative.

A racket featured in the campaign, which costs 33,000 yen before tax, reportedly sells for days on end.

"I came to buy one for my daughter who plays tennis," said a man shopping at the Super Sports Xebio store in the capital's Chiyoda Ward.

Konami Sports Club said trial sign-ups at its 21 tennis schools more than doubled Saturday and Sunday compared with a year earlier. The match aired during Japan's prime evening viewing hours, which may have boosted interest, a Konami public relations representative said.

Instant noodle maker Nissin Foods Holdings, which sponsors Osaka, debuted commemorative cup-noodle packaging for her U.S. Open victory last year and is considering a similar move following her Australian Open win. Last week, the company pulled an ad that was criticized for portraying the mixed-race athlete with unrealistically pale skin in cartoon form.

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