BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells Prediction #BNPPO18
🏆🌵 Final: 🇷🇺 (20) Daria Kasatkina vs 🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka
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It is really hard to know what is going to happen here. Just about anything could happen, a straight set win for either player or a tight 3 set win for either player. Kasatkina and Osaka have both beaten multiple quality opponents on route to the biggest final of their respective careers. Both are full of confidence right now, but both are bound to feel the pressure of playing for such a huge title with little or no experience in these circumstances. Given this is unprecedented territory for both, there is a great unknown heading into this match.
I’m going to side with Kasatkina. The Russian is slightly more experienced in these situations. Kasatkina has played in 3 finals whilst Osaka has played in just 1. Kasatkina has won a WTA title (Charleston last year) whilst Osaka is yet to win a title, this may not seem like a big difference but it could count for a lot. Having previously won a title is certainly an advantage for Kasatkina. The Russian has played in 3 finals whilst Osaka has played in just 1. In general, think Kasatkina is mentally tougher and more stable and reliable, I still have my doubts about Osaka’s mentality, especially under extreme pressure.
Kasatkina presents a whole new challenge for Osaka, The Japanese player has not come up against an opponent like Kasatkina at this event whilst Venus Williams would have been a good dress rehearsal for the final to Kasatkina. Kasatkina’s outstanding defensive skills and great array of variety are the perfect assets to throw Osaka off her game, an awkward opponent for Osaka in the biggest match of her career. I think the surface in Indian Wells slightly favours Kasatkina in this matchup. The slow surface means Kasatkina has more time to deal with Osaka's best shots, whilst the high bouncing courts make the Russian's heavy forehand more dangerous than usual.
Kasatkina has come through some tough moments in Indian Wells, most notably at the later stages of her match against Venus Williams in the semi-finals. Conversely, Osaka has not come under such pressure and therefore may be at a disadvantage in the final where there are bound to be some very tense moments. Kasatkina has more strings to her bow, she is more versatile and a great problem solver.
Overall, I give the edge to Kasatkina because of the above factors.