Ash Barty vs. Naomi Osaka, Shenzhen RR Preview

🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka

A blockbuster clash between Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka will kick-start singles play on Tuesday at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Barty and Osaka both claimed hard-fought 3 set victories on day 1 of the tournament meaning the winner of this match will be the first to book a place in the semi-finals in Shenzhen.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her RR1 match 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Ash Barty battled from a set down to defeat Belinda Bencic 5-7 6-1 6-2 in her debut match at the WTA Finals. Barty’s win over Bencic means that Barty will become the first Australian woman to become the season ending world number 1. Barty’s dominance behind serve was key to her win over Bencic, the Barty serve was broken just once as she hit 10 aces and won 82% of her first service points. A similar serving performance against Osaka will give the top seed a great chance of scoring another win.

Naomi Osaka was also forced to battle hard for her opening victory in Shenzhen, Osaka fended off a strong fightback from Petra Kvitova to secure a 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory. Osaka was strong behind her first serve where she hit 12 aces and won 72% of points. However, Osaka was broken on 5 occasions and was fairly inconsistent, the Japanese star will need to produce a tidier performance if she is to knock off the world number 1 on Tuesday.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her RR1 match 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. Osaka holds a 2-1 edge on hard courts and has won their 2 most recent matches on a hard court. Most recently Osaka defeated Barty 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the final of the China Open earlier this month.

This is a very tough match to predict, a match that could easily go either way between arguably the 2 strongest players over the last 16 months. I’m going to give the slight edge to Barty. The main reasons for siding with the Aussie is that her serve is slightly more secure and her versatility on a slow, low bouncing surface has the potentially to frustrate Osaka in what should be a tight match.

Prediction: Ash Barty to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets

Naomi Osaka vs. Petra Kvitova, Shenzhen RR Preview

🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 (6) Petra Kvitova

A blockbuster contest between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova will kick-start the 2019 WTA Finals in Shenzhen. A rematch of this year’s epic Australian Open final, expect another exciting clash between two of the most dynamic players on tour. Kvitova will be keen for revenge after suffering a painful loss in the Australian Open final but Osaka is arguably the form player on tour and will be tough to stop.

Naomi Osaka arrives in Shenzhen on a 10-match winning streak. The Japanese star has reached at least the quarter-final stage in each of her last 5 tournaments and should be considered the favourite heading into the final tournament of the season. This will be Osaka’s second year in a row competing at the season ending championships. Osaka failed to win a single match at last year’s championships so she will be hoping for a much more successful campaign this time around.

Petra Kvitova returns to the WTA Finals for a seventh time, the 2011 champion is the only player who has played at each of the last 4 venues the tournament has been held at. Kvitova rebounded with some decent results during the Asian swing after a disappointing US Open series. Kvitova reached the semi-finals in Wuhan and the quarter-finals in Beijing.

The only previous match between the pair was in the Australian Open final earlier this year, Osaka claimed a dramatic 7-6 5-7 6-4 victory to capture her second major title.

I’m going to give the slight edge to Kvitova on this occasion. Experience and conditions favour the 2-time Wimbledon champion. Kvitova is the most experienced player in the draw and that will count for a lot in a tournament like this. Conversely, Osaka has never won a match at the WTA Finals. Kvitova has a fantastic career record at indoor events whilst the same isn’t true for Osaka. This is a big match for Kvitova, the Australian Open final defeat to Osaka this year was one of the toughest losses of her career and she will be eager for revenge, I think she gets it, Osaka is also due for a loss.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets

Naomi Osaka vs. Anna Blinkova, US Open R1 Preview

🇺🇸🗽🍎 US OPEN, R1 match preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇷🇺 Anna Blinkova

Naomi Osaka begins her title defense in New York with an opening round clash against Russia’s Anna Blinkova. There are several questions marks surrounding the form and fitness of the Japanese star heading into this clash, she will need to be on guard as she comes up against an in-form opponent. Will the top seed survive her first test at the 2019 US Open?

Naomi Osaka’s US Open series hasn’t gone to plan thus far. Osaka may have made back-to-back quarter-finals but the reality wasn’t so impressive. Osaka was comfortably beaten by Serena Williams in Toronto before retiring injured against Sofia Kenin in Cincinnati with a left knee injury. Osaka has rarely been able to play her best tennis over the last few months and arrives in New York under a huge amount of pressure as she seeks to defend a Grand Slam title for the very first time in her young career.

Anna Blinkova arrives in New York fresh from a quarter-final showing in the Bronx last week. Blinkova is battled-hardened having played 6 matches in the Bronx, the Russian fell at the final round of qualifying before making the most of her lucky-loser position in the main draw with a run to the final 8. Blinkova has never won a main draw match at the US Open but she did achieve her best result at a Grand Slam earlier this year by making the third round at Roland Garros.

This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Blinkova. This may look like an easy matchup for Osaka but the reality is likely to be very different. It is Blinkova who is better prepared heading into this match and who has nothing to lose. All the pressure is on Osaka, this will be her first match as a defending champion at a Grand Slam, many others have stumbled in this position. Nevertheless, Osaka is a 2-time Grand Slam champion for a season and is very much at home on a hard court, I expect the world number 1 to fight her way through this one, she should have too many weapons for the young Russian to handle.

Prediction: Naomi Osaka to defeat Anna Blinkova in 3 sets

Naomi Osaka vs. Katerina Siniakova, Roland Garros R3 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R3 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova

Naomi Osaka continues her quest for a third consecutive Grand Slam title with a third round clash against Katerina Siniakova at Roland Garros. Osaka has fought from a set and a break down in each of her opening matches in Paris and will be hoping for a more straightforward victory here as she aims to reach the second week at Roland Garros for the first time in her career.

Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in action during her second-round match at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka looked down and out in both of her matches on route to the third round. Osaka overcame a terribly slow start to defeat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6 7-6 6-1 in the opening round, Schmiedlova twice served for the match in the second set of that one but couldn’t get overt the line. In the second round Osaka came from a set and 2-4 down to beat Victoria Azarenka 4-6 7-5 6-3, Azarenka had break point to go up 5-2 in the second set of that match. In a way Osaka has been lucky to survive, she could have easily lost both matches but credit to her for staying there and fighting through some tough situations.

Katerina Siniakova is through to the third round at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, Siniakova has never gone beyond the third round at a Grand Slam so this is a big opportunity for the Czech. Siniakova started the event with a 6-1 7-6 win over Elena Rybakina before battling hard to secure a spot in the third round with a 3 hour 14 minute defeat of Maria Sakkari, a 7-6 6-7 6-3 victory. Siniakova did well to come through that match with Sakkari considering she squandered a few match points in the second set but rebounded well in the third set.

Osaka won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 6-0 victory over Katerina Siniakova in Doha.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇸🇰 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Naomi Osaka begins her Roland Garros campaign against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Osaka is undoubtedly the biggest star in the women’s game at the moment, Osaka has taken over the tour in the last year by winning the last two Grand Slam titles and holding onto the number 1 ranking for several months. Despite this, Osaka is not considered one of the favourites in Paris as she is yet to prove herself on clay.

Naomi Osaka of Japan during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka arrives in Paris on the back of some of her best ever results on clay, Osaka reached the quarter-final stage in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome where she played some quality matches on the red dirt. Osaka has never made it to the second week in Paris, her best previous result was a third round finish which she achieved in 2016 and 2018. The recent signs from Osaka suggest that her damaging weapons can be just as effective on clay as they are on a hard court.

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova heads into one of the biggest matches of her life in poor form. Schmiedlova suffered an embarrassing opening round loss to Xinyun Han in Strasbourg last week where she managed to win just 2 games despite heading into the match as a heavy favourite. Schmiedlova has stumbled at the opening round stage in Paris in the last 3 years and will suffer the same fate here unless she produces a miracle performance.

This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Schmiedlova, a big mismatch on paper.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Belinda Bencic, Indian Wells R4 Preview

🇺🇸🌵 BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R4 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇭 (23) Belinda Bencic

Two of the WTA tour’s most in form players will collide in Indian Wells on Tuesday evening when Naomi Osaka comes up against Belinda Bencic. This match-up sees the world number 1, defending Indian Wells champion and reigning US Open / Australian Open champion take on a resurgent Belinda Bencic who is on a 10-match winning streak having arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her third-round match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka was under pressure heading into this event and there were some real question marks surrounding her title defense after she split with her coach a few weeks ago and lost her opening round match in Dubai. However, Osaka has made a strong start in Indian Wells. The world number 1 started the event with a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic, avenging her loss to the Frenchwoman in Dubai last month. Osaka then went on to produce an impressive performance to blast her way past Danielle Collins 6-4 6-2, if she maintains that level she will be hard to beat this week.

Belinda Bencic has been totally untroubled in her first couple of matches in Indian Wells. Bencic started the event with a 6-4 6-1 win over Alison Van Uytvanck before defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-2. Bencic is on a roll at the moment, momentum is certainly on Bencic’s side and she will need all of that positive energy when she takes on the world number 1 in the next round.

Osaka and Bencic have never met at the tour level before. They have previously played at the Hopman Cup last year where Bencic won in straight sets and at an ITF event in 2013 where Osaka won in straight sets, these previous results are mostly irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how their first tour level encounter unfolds.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Dubai R2 Preview

🐪 Dubai DFTC – R2 Preview
🇯🇵 (1) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Naomi Osaka will be in action for the first time since her historic Australian Open triumph when she comes up against France’s Kristina Mladenovic at the second round stage of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The top seeded Osaka received a bye through the first round and will be playing her first match since splitting with coach Sascha Bajin.

Naomi Osaka of Japan during the All Access Hour ahead of the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka is the undisputed world number 1 in the women’s game. Osaka has won the last two Grand Slam titles and now rightfully sits at the top of the rankings. All the more reason why her recent decision to split with coach Sascha Bajin was such shocking news, especially given how far she has come under his guidance. It will be very interesting to see how Osaka goes without Bajin, perhaps this is where she starts to stutter?

Kristina Mladenovic has made a typically ordinary start to the season but benefited from a favourable opening round draw in Dubai. Mladenovic came up against local wild card Fatma Al-Nabhani and easily won 6-1 6-1. Safe to say Mladenovic will face a far, far greater test against Osaka in the next round.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in Dubai last year, Osaka won that match 6-2 6-2.

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Naomi Osaka vs. Petra Kvitova, Australian Open Final Preview

Australian Open, Final Preview
🇯🇵 (4) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 (7) Petra Kvitova

Saturday’s championship match at Melbourne Park promises to be an epic as Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova go head-to-head for the very first time. Not only will the winner walk away with another Grand Slam title, they will also move to number 1 in the world rankings for the first time. Osaka and Kvitova are both in outstanding form, both know what it takes to win a Grand Slam, this is a very tough match to pick a winner!

Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates winning her semi-final at the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka continues to show maturity well beyond her years. The 21-year-old has made gigantic improvements in the last 12 months and is now just 1 win away from winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles. The reigning US Open champion has certainly not suffered a let-down like most others have in her position after winning their first Grand Slam title, the signs are that she will be at the top of women’s tennis for some time.

Osaka’s route to the final in Melbourne has been a tough one. Osaka has impressively navigated her way through several tough matches. The Japanese star was untroubled in her first few matches against Magda Linette and Tamara Zidansek where she won in straight sets. Osaka then battled past Su-Wei Hsieh and Anastasija Sevastova from a set down before beating Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Osaka secured her spot in Saturday’s final with a hard-fought 6-2 4-6 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova. Osaka was seemingly cruising to a straight set win when she led Pliskova by a set and a break but valiantly fended off a Pliskova comeback, saving early break points in third on route to a tough victory.

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic reacts to making the final of the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Petra Kvitova is in devastating form. Kvitova has bullied her way through the draw at Melbourne Park without dropping a set. Kvitova enters Saturday’s final on an 11-match winning streak having arrived in Melbourne fresh from winning the Sydney International title. Kvitova is also on an 8-match winning streak in finals and has an incredible 26-7 W/L record in finals.

Kvitova stormed through the first week with wins over Magdalena Rybarikova, Irina-Camelia Begu and Belinda Bencic. Kvitova upped her level in the next couple of matches in crushing victories over Amanda Anisimova and Ashleigh Barty. The 2-time former Wimbledon champion secured her spot in the final with a 7-6 6-0 victory over Danielle Collins. Kvitova played a messy opening set against Collins but raised her level in the second as she cruised to victory to reach her first Australian Open final.

Expect fireworks in this match-up, the first time the pair have gone head-to-head.
Who will prevail and capture the first Grand Slam title of 2019?

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Naomi Osaka vs. Karolina Pliskova, Australian Open SF Preview

🇦🇺 Australian Open, Semi-Final Preview
🇯🇵 (4) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇨🇿 (7) Karolina Pliskova

Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova will renew hostilities when they go head-to-head in Thursday’s second semi-final at Melbourne Park. There is a lot on the line here. Osaka is two just 2 wins away from completing the rare New York / Melbourne double whilst Pliskova is two wins away from finally capturing that elusive maiden Grand Slam title. Both Osaka and Pliskova will become world number 1 if they go on to win the title in Melbourne. This is a big one between two powerful players.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka has done extremely well to reach the semi-finals in her first Grand Slam since winning the US Open last year. Osaka continues to show maturity beyond her years. We have seen several players struggle with the pressure after breaking through and winning a Grand Slam title, that has certainly not been the case with Osaka who has admirably dealt this several tough situations on route to the final 4 in Melbourne.

Osaka cruised through her first couple of matches in Melbourne with straight set wins over Magda Linette and Tamara Zidansek. Osaka then navigated her way past Su-Wei Hsieh and Anastasija Sevastova, Osaka came from a set down in both of those matches, against Hsieh she was down a set and a break. Osaka sealed her spot in the final 4 with a fairly dominant 6-4 6-1 win over Elina Svitolina.

Karolina Pliskova is through to her third Grand Slam semi-final and will be aiming to reach her second Grand Slam final in her quest to finally win a Grand Slam title. Pliskova is widely regarded as the best player on tour not to win a Grand Slam title, the former world number 1 now has a great chance to change that.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic reacts to winning her quarter-final match at the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Pliskova booked her spot in the semi-finals with a dramatic victory over Serena Williams. Pliskova blew a set and a break lead to trail Williams 1-5 in the decider, from there Pliskova won 6 straight games and saved 4 match points on route to a famous 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory. It has been a fantastic start to the season for Pliskova who is currently on a 10-match winning streak having won the Brisbane International title prior to arriving in Melbourne.

Pliskova holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Osaka. The pair split their 2 meetings in 2018: Osaka won in 3 sets in Indian Wells whilst more recently Pliskova won 6-4 6-4 in the Tokyo final.

Who will prevail in the battle of the big hitters?

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Naomi Osaka vs. Magda Linette, Australian Open R1 Preview

🇦🇺 Australian Open, R1 Preview
🇯🇵 (4) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇵🇱 Magda Linette

Naomi Osaka begins her 2019 Australian Open campaign on Tuesday night with a first round clash against Poland’s Magda Linette on Rod Laver Arena. The eyes of the tennis world are on Naomi Osaka at this year’s Australian Open in what will be the first Grand Slam Osaka has competed in since winning the US Open last year, how will the young star handle the extra attention and added pressure?

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the quarter-final at the 2019 Brisbane International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka made a decent start to the 2019 season with a semi-final showing at the Brisbane International. Osaka started the season with a straight set win over Destanee Aiava before fighting from a set down to claim an important win over Anastasija Sevastova. The tournament ended in disappointment for Osaka when she surprisingly lost to Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets, Osaka then withdrew from Sydney, instead Osaka has been in Melbourne for a week training.

Magda Linette arrives at Melbourne Park battle hardened. Linette was in action at the Hobart International last week where she claimed a couple of wins to get through the qualifying draw before upsetting Maria Sakkari in the opening round. Linette was eliminated from Hobart in the second round, a tough 3 set loss to Greet Minnen, Linette served for the match in the third set.

Interestingly it was Linette who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win in Washington D.C last year. Osaka certainly wasn’t anywhere near her best on that occasion and will surely be a a tougher opponent on this occasion.

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