Ashleigh Barty vs. Naomi Osaka, Nottingham SF Preview

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham SF Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka

Two of the tour’s most promising young talents will go head-to-head in Saturday’s first semi-final in Nottingham when Ashleigh Barty comes up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka. Barty and Osaka are two of the youngest players ranked inside the top 20, this is certainly a match-up that we will be seeing a lot more of in the future. The head-to-head record between the two is split at a win apiece, who will move ahead and book their spot in the final?

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Ash Barty has rocketed in to the final 4 in Nottingham without dropping a set. Barty has made the most of a favourable draw, claiming comfortable wins over Stefanie Voegele, Ying-Ying Duan and Katie Boulter. This feels like an important couple of matches coming up for Barty in Nottingham. The Aussie has only won the 1 WTA title, it is important for her belief to start adding to her collection, the top seed has the perfect opportunity to do just that in Nottingham.

Naomi Osaka has recovered from a slow start to the event to reach a maiden semi-final on a grass court. Osaka needed 3 sets to get passed Sachia Vickery in the opening round before comfortably defeating Denisa Allertova and Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

The head-to-head record between the pair sits at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the two took place earlier this year at the Australian Open, Osaka handily defeated Barty 6-4 6-2 in what was a near-flawless performance by Osaka. A very different result seems likely in Nottingham.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, Nottingham QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham QF Preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇷🇴 (5) Mihaela Buzarnescu

The pick of the quarter-finals match-ups at the Nature Valley Open on Friday sees the third seeded Naomi Osaka take on the fifth seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Buzarnescu, an interesting match-up because of the contrast in styles between the pair. This will also be the first grass court quarter-final either of these two have competed in, who will book their spot in the semi-finals?

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Naomi Osaka got her Nottingham campaign off to a slow start as she came from a set down to defeat Sachia Vickery, a 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory. Osaka produced a more assured performance in the second round as she easily disposed of Denisa Allertova to claim a 6-3 6-2 win. Osaka’s consistency and adaptability have improved significantly allowing her to perform well on all surfaces in 2018.

Mihaela Buzarnescu continues to achieve new milestones. Entering the tournament at a career high ranking inside the to 30, the Romanian has been typically gutsy on route to the quarter-finals in Nottingham. Buzarnescu started the event with a 6-2 3-6 7-6 win over Veronica Cepede Royg before battling past Irina Falconi 6-3 5-7 6-3. Buzarnescu did well to recover from disappointment in the second set on both occasions, in the past she would have faded away in the third set.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Denisa Allertova, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 Denisa Allertova

The third seeded Naomi Osaka will face a real test in her second round match in Nottingham when she takes on Denisa Allertova. Osaka will need to be wary heading into this match, Allertova has a powerful game that is well suited to the grass, expect Allertova to really change Osaka.

Osaka got off to a slow start in her opening round match in Nottingham. The rising star was forced to come from a set down on route to a 3-6 6-1 6-2 win over Sachia Vickery. In theory Osaka has the type of explosive game that can be very dangerous on this surface, however she does have little experience on grass and was understandably rusty in her opening round match on Monday. It will be interesting to see if her level picks up in the second round.

Denisa Allertova stormed through her opening round match in Nottingham, a dominant 6-3 6-1 win over Kristie Ahn. Allertova also has little experience on grass so it was encouraging for her to have such a positive opening round performance in Nottingham.

The only previous match between the pair was a close one, Osaka claimed a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 7-5 victory at the U.S Open last year. That result will give Allertova encouragement that she can cause an upset here.

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Naomi Osaka vs Serena Williams, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) Serena Williams

The pick of the opening round clashes at the Miami Open sees the newly crowned Indian Wells champion: Naomi Osaka, come up against 8 time former Miami champion: Serena Williams. This is by far the toughest opening round match-up in the draw, a brutal match-up for both. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Williams, an intriguing clash between the future and the present/past of women’s tennis. In many ways, there are real similarities between Osaka and a young Williams, similar strengths and power. Also linking the pair is the fact that Osaka’s coach is Serena’s long time former hitting partner Sascha Bajin. Intriguing indeed.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka arrives in Miami on a high after winning the first title of her career at the premier mandatory level event in Indian Wells. It was an outstanding event for Osaka, the 20-year-old handily beat multiple quality opponents on route to the title, winning 7 consecutive matches for the first time in her career. Osaka claimed wins over Sharapova, Radwanska, Vickery, Sakkari, Pliskova, Halep and Kasatkina. A list that includes wins over 3 former/current number 1’s. The way in which Osaka cruised through her last 3 matches in straight sets dropping a combined 13 games was exceptionally impressive, especially given Osaka’s inexperience at later stages of big events. Osaka showed consistency, patience and maturity that we have not seen from her before. It will be interesting to see how Osaka responds after such an amazing event.

Serena Williams made her much anticipated return to the WTA tour in Indian Wells. The 23-time Grand Slam champion managed to win a couple of matches in her first tournament in over a year, her first tournament since giving birth. Serena claimed straight set wins over Zarina Diyas and Kiki Bertens before succumbing to Venus Williams in straight sets. Overall it was a positive week for Serena who showed that it will not be long before she returns to the top of the game. Miami is a second home to Serena Williams, the 36-year-old has won the Miami Open on 8 previous occasions, most recently in 2015. `After a reasonably early exit in Indian Wells expect Serena to be extremely motivated heading into Miami.




It will be interesting to see what type of level Osaka can bring to this match, if she plays how she did throughout the last couple of weeks in Indian Wells then she has a great chance of pushing Serena Williams. However, replicating her Indian Wells level in Miami will be a tough, that’s for sure, getting passed a determined Serena will also be very tough.

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Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells Final Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells Preview #BNPPO18
🏆🌵 Final: 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

The next generation is here! The first premier mandatory event will come to an exciting finale on Sunday as the 20th seeded Daria Kasatkina takes on Naomi Osaka, a pair 20-year-old’s. Kasatkina and Osaka have both beaten several quality opponents on route to the Indian Wells final, both dropping just 1 set on route to the final. This will be the first career meeting between Kasatkina and Osaka, two inexperienced players on this huge stage. With so much on the line, who will step up and make the most of this golden opportunity?

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the semi-final of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Kasatkina and Osaka will both be playing for the biggest title of their careers. In fact, Osaka is yet to win a WTA title and has only played in 1 final, beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo in 2016. Kasatkina has 1 career title to her name, a triumph in Charleston on green clay last year. Kasatkina has played in 2 other finals, including a straight set loss to Elina Svitolina last month in Dubai.

Daria Kasatkina’s route to the final has been extremely impressive. The Russian stared the week with a straight set win over Katerina Siniakova before claiming 3 consecutive straight set wins over Grand Slam champions: 6-4 6-3 over Sloane Stephens, 6-4 7-5 over Caroline Wozniacki and 6-0 6-2 over Angelique Kerber. Kasatkina secured her spot in the biggest final of her career with a gripping 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over Venus Williams, a fourth consecutive victory over a Grand Slam champion and a 6th victory over a top 10 opponent in the last month and a half. Kasatkina was behind for the large majority of her win over Venus, at 4-5 0-30 down and on a second serve in the deciding set, it looked like Kasatkina was gone. The Russian showed great heart, she went on to drop just 1 point from that stage to claim one of the biggest wins of her career.




Naomi Osaka’s route to the final has also been impressive. Osaka has beaten 3 former / current world number 1’s. Osaka started the event with straight set wins over Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, great wins over 2 very different opponents. Osaka then went on to beat Sachia Vickery in 3 sets before being pushed to a third set for the only time at this event as she beat Maria Sakkari in the fourth round. Osaka’s two most recent victories were arguably her most impressive, a 6-2 6-3 demolition of Karolina Pliskova and a 6-3 6-0 thrashing of Simona Halep. To drop a combined 8 games in wins over Pliskova and Halep is outstanding. There is no doubt that Osaka has shown consistency that we have never previously seen from her, a new sense of maturity and belief is evident in her game.

This match-up will feature a fascinating contrast in styles. The hard, flat hitting of Osaka against the heavy game of Kasatkina and the Russian’s outstanding movement. It will be interesting to see how this match pans out in the first career meeting between the two and with so much on the line, who will prevail?

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Simona Halep vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells SF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells SF Preview
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

A blockbuster semi-final from the BNP Paribas Open sees 2015 champion and current world number 1: Simona Halep come up against an in-form rising-star: Naomi Osaka. This match-up features and interesting contrast in styles, the outstanding movement and consistency of Halep against the explosive power of Osaka. Halep has had the better of this matchup in the past, the Romanian holds a 3-0 H2H record over Osaka. However, Osaka is playing the best tennis of her career right now and will fancy her chances of causing a big upset.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Simona Halep has now reached the semi-final stage at all 4 tournaments she has competed in this year. Halep has amassed an extremely impressive 18-1 win/loss record in 2018, a record that reflects her world number 1 ranking. Halep has had some tough matches on route to the semi-finals. The 2015 Champion started the event with a 6-4 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova before surviving a real scare to get past Caroline Dolehide 1-6 7-6 6-2. Halep started the second week with a 7-5 6-1 win over Qiang Wang before fighting from 1-3 down in the deciding set to beat Petra Martic 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a match that was played in tough conditions. When Halep dropped the second set and fell behind early in the third she looked frustrated and destined to lose, the Romanian displayed her improved mental toughness to regroup and win 5 straight games to close the match and move into the final 4.

Naomi Osaka is having the best tournament of her career, the 20-year-old is into her second and biggest semi-final of her career. Osaka has had the toughest draw of any player remaining in the draw. Osaka started the event with excellent straight set wins over Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka was pushed to a third set in the fourth round, overcoming a stern challenge to beat Maria Sakkari 6-1 5-7 6-1. Osaka’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she thrashed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-3. Osaka completely outplayed Pliskova from start to finish, Osaka was calm and calculated and executed the perfect game. Osaka has displayed consistency that we have not really previously seen from her over the last week and a half in Indian Wells.

Simona Halep has won all 3 of the previous matches between the pair. The pair last met earlier this at the Australian Open, Halep won 6-3 6-2 at the fourth round stage. Osaka made a promising start in that match but ultimately did not have the consistency to compete with Halep. Their other two matches went to a third set, a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win for Halep in Miami last year and a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win at Roland Garros in 2016.

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Karolina Pliskova vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells QF Preview
🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka

Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka will open the night session on Wednesday when they go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of the BNP Paribas Open. This promises to be an exciting encounter between two of the most aggressive, powerful players on tour. Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to reach the semi-final stage in Indian Wells for the third year in a row whilst Osaka will be aiming to reach the final 4 at a premier mandatory level event for the first time.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova arrived in Indian Wells on the back of a disappointing Middle Eastern swing, importantly the Czech has been able to gain some much needed momentum at the BNP Paribas Open. Pliskova is into the quarter-final stage in Indian Wells for the third consecutive year thanks to wins over Irina-Camelia Begu, Shuai Zhang and Amanda Anisimova. Clearly it has been a favourable draw for Pliskova and she has not necessarily been playing at her best but has been good enough to work her way into the business end of the tournament.

Naomi Osaka is having one of her most impressive tournaments, reaching the quarter-final stage at a premier mandatory event for the first time. Osaka started the event with a big 6-4 6-4 upset win over 2-time former champion Maria Sharapova. Osaka back-up that win nicely with straight set wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka confirmed her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. Osaka has certainly improved her consistency and stability in matches, that has been on show in Indian Wells.

The only previous match between the pair took place at the Rogers Cup last week. Pliskova was ahead 6-2 6-7 1-0 before Osaka retired injured. This is an interesting match-up given the explosive power that both ladies possess, a first strikes tennis battle.

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Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sakkari, Indian Wells R4 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R4 Preview
🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs 🇬🇷 Maria Sakkari

Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the fourth round stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday. Osaka and Sakkari are two young players on the rise, both will see this as a huge opportunity to reach the quarter-final stage of a premier mandatory event for the first time. Osaka and Sakkari have both beaten big names on route to the final 16, expect a quality encounter.

Maria Sakkari of Greece in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka started the event with a big upset as she defeated 2-time former champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round, a fairly comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory. Osaka backed up her big win over Sharapova impressively well, claiming a dominant 6-3 6-2 win over former finalist Agnieszka Radwanska. Osaka confirmed her spot in the fourth round when she defeated America’s Sachia Vickery 6-3 6-3. Osaka has shown great consistency this week, something we have rarely seen from the talented 20-year-old, certainly something she has shown more of in 2018.

Maria Sakkari has also moved into the fourth round in Indian Wells without dropping a set. Sakkari started the week with a 6-4 6-2 win over Donna Vekic before causing two big upsets in a row. A 6-4 6-2 win over Ashleigh Barty and a 6-2 6-4 win over CoCo Vandeweghe. Sakkari’s win over Vandeweghe was particularly impressive, Sakkari was very consistent and diligent as she successfully exposed the weak backhand side of Vandeweghe to claim a fairly comfortable victory.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out, a match-up we should see a lot more of in the future as these two continue to rise up the rankings.

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Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sharapova, Indian Wells R1 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R1 Preview
🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

The pick of the opening round matches at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open sees two-time former champion Maria Sharapova come up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Sharapova, an exciting match-up between two extremely aggressive players. Osaka has already claimed some big victories in her young career, can she add Sharapova to her list of high profile scalps? A determined Sharapova will be keen to deny one the tour's brightest rising-stars.

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Naomi Osaka has been quite consistent of late as she continues to make her way up the rankings. Osaka arrives at the BNP Paribas Open on the back of a decent couple of weeks in the Middle East. Osaka successfully qualified for the main draw in Doha before succumbing in the second round to Anastasija Sevastova. Whilst more recently Osaka reached the quarter-finals in Dubai, solid results after reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open earlier this year. Osaka had a few good wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Anett Kontaveit in Dubai before being beaten by the eventual champion: Elina Svitolina. Osaka’s immense talent is undeniable, however her mentality is still an issue.

Maria Sharapova’s Middle Eastern swing certainly did no go to plan. Sharapova suffered a shock opening round exit at the Qatar Total Open, beaten by Monica Niculescu from a set and a break ahead. Sharapova would generally be disappointed with her start to the season, the former world number 1 has amassed a modest 5-3 win/loss record up until this point in the season. Sharapova will look to ignite her season in Indian Wells, a tournament where she has great memories having twice won the BNP Paribas Open.

It will be interesting to see how this first time meeting pans out. Osaka seemingly has the game to trouble Sharapova but does Osaka have the mentality to match the intensity and competitiveness of Sharapova?

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Elina Svitolina vs Naomi Osaka, Dubai QF Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF Preview
🇺🇦 (1) Elina Svitolina vs 🇯🇵 (wc) Naomi Osaka

Defending champion Elina Svitolina will come up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the opening quarter-final of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday. Svitolina is likely to have her work cut out here, Osaka has won the last two matches between the pair and has rolled through her first couple of matches in Dubai in straight sets. Svitolina has not been at her best in 2018 and is seemingly vulnerable heading into this match, can Osaka record a third consecutive win over the top seed?

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine in action at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA Premier tennis tournament

Svitolina started her Dubai title defense with a fairly unimpressive 3 set win over Qiang Wang. Svitolina won a topsy-turvy match 6-1 5-7 6-2. Svitolina would have been very disappointed that she was not able to close out her match with Wang in straight sets, she was broken from 40-0 up to succumb the second set. Nevertheless, the top seed rebounded well enough in the deciding set to confirm a quarter-final showdown with Naomi Osaka. This match-up looms as good opportunity for Svitolina to showcase her more aggressive game.

Naomi Osaka is looking good in Dubai, the 20-year-old has blasted her way past Kristina Mladenovic and Anett Kontaveit to reach her first quarter-final since Hong Kong last year. Osaka comfortably moved past the 8th seeded Mladenovic in the opening round, winning 6-2 6-2 before surviving a late scare to beat Kontaveit 6-2 7-6. Osaka threw away a 4-1 40-0 lead in the second set and gave Kontaveit a chance to serve out the set at 5-6. Osaka managed to steady and ended the second set tiebreak with a flurry to ensure she would eventually close the match out in straight sets. Osaka’s partnership with Sascha Bajin seems like it will pay dividends.

Osaka holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Svitolina. Osaka has won the last couple of matches between the pair, both in 2016. A 6-4 6-4 win at the Australian Open and a 1-6 6-3 6-2 win in Tokyo.

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