Hopman Cup, Japan vs Switzerland
?? Naomi Osaka vs ?? Belinda Bencic
Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic will open their 2018 seasons on Saturday as Japan takes on Switzerland in the Hopman Cup. This will be an interesting match between two of the tour’s most exciting young prospects.
I’m going to side with Belinda Bencic in this match. I think Bencic is the more stable of the pair and is the more reliable player heading into this match at the early stage of the season. This is particularly true given Bencic’s positive ending to the 2017 season where she won back-to-back 125K titles in Hua-Hin and Taipei before winning an ITF 100K event in Dubai. Bencic will bring all of that winning momentum to the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Both Bencic and Osaka have strong games from the baseline, however, it is Bencic who is far more consistent and has more variety to her game. Clearly Osaka has more power, but can she find her range in her first match of the season? Bencic loves to counter-punch and will be able absorb and redirect the power of Osaka.
Importantly, Bencic is more accustomed to representing her country and will receive a big boost playing alongside Roger Federer for the second year in a row. Therefore, I’d say Bencic game is more consistent and reliable and so is her mentality heading into this match. Bencic should win.