2020 US OPEN – SF #1 preview + prediction: ?? ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (28) Jennifer Brady
A blockbuster match-up between 2018 champion Naomi Osaka and a red-hot Jennifer Brady will decide the first entrant into the 2020 US Open final. Jennifer Brady has been the most dominant player in the field, not even coming close to dropping a set, the American will face her biggest test of the event thus far against Osaka.
Jennifer Brady is through to her first Grand Slam semi-final thanks to an emphatic stretch of victories. Brady hasn’t dropped more than 4 games in a single set, the 25-year-old has averaged just 2.4 games against per set this tournament. Brady cruised through the first week with wins over Anna Blinkova, Cici Bellis and Caroline Garcia. Brady eliminated former champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round with a 6-1 6-4 victory before securing her spot in the final 4 with a 6-3 6-2 win over Yulia Putintseva.
Naomi Osaka has built her way into ominous form heading into the business end of the event. Osaka wasn’t always convincing through the first week where she needed 3 sets to get past Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk, a straight set win over Camila Giorgi was sandwiched between those struggles. Osaka’s last few performances have been far more convincing, a 6-3 6-4 win over Anett Kontaveit and a 6-3 6-4 win over Shelby Rogers.
It was Osaka who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 6-4 victory with on the green clay of Charleston in 2018.
This promises to be a close match between a pair of powerful and confident players. Both have the weapons to control their service games more often than not, small margins should decide this one. I’ll give the slight edge to Brady, it is Brady who has been the more consistent of the two of the whole tournament and it is Brady who has more variety in her game, which could be key in such a close match-up.
Prediction: Jennifer Brady to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
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2020 US OPEN – R4 preview + prediction: ?? ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (14) Anett Kontaveit
Naomi Osaka continues her quest for a third major title on Sunday with a tricky fourth round match-up with the 14th seeded Anett Kontaveit. This will be a rematch of the Western & Southern Open quarter-final match-up from a few week ago where Osaka just edged past the Estonian in a tight 3 set contest. Can an in-form Kontaveit flip the script at Flushing Meadows?
Naomi Osaka is through to the second week at the US Open for the third consecutive year. The 2018 US Open champion has come through a couple of tough battles on route to the fourth round. The 4th seed laboured through her opening round clash where she defeated Misaki Doi 6/2 5/7 6/2. Osaka produced a far more clinical performance in the second round where she defeated Camila Giorgi 6/1 6/2. The former world number 1 was again forced to dig deep in the third round where she outlasted Marta Kostyuk 6/3 6/7 6/2. A tough opening week for Osaka.
Anett Kontaveit also overcame an opening round scare at Flushing Meadows. Kontaveit rallied to defeat Danielle Collins 5/7 6/2 6/2 in the opening round before cruising past Kaja Juvan 6/4 6/1. The 14th seed secured her spot in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time since 2015 with an easy 6/3 6/2 win over Magda Linette. Kontaveit broke new grounds at the Australian Open earlier this year when she reached her first major quarter-final and will be looking to go even further in New York.
Naomi Osaka has won all 4 of the previous meetings between the pair. Kontaveit was close to beating Osaka in their most recent match, Osaka won from a set and a break down, a 4/6 6/2 7/5 win at the Western & Southern Open a few weeks ago.
I’m going to side with Osaka here. The 4-0 head-to-head record for Osaka says a lot, granted their match a few weeks ago was a close one, but it also showed that Osaka can overcome Kontaveit without playing her best on this surface. Expect Osaka to raise her level for this clash, it is Osaka who has proven that she raises her level at this stage of major events, whilst Kontaveit tends to go back into her shell, especially under pressure. Osaka has the greater power and consistency and should get the job done here.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to defeat Anett Kontaveit in 2 sets
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2020 US OPEN – R2 preview + prediction: ?? ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? Camila Giorgi
Naomi Osaka continues her 2020 US Open campaign on Day 3 where she faces a tough second round test against the fearless Camila Giorgi. Osaka made an unconvincing start to the tournament and will need to raise her level for this match-up against a dangerous opponent. Can Giorgi pull off the upset?
Osaka was surprisingly forced into a 3-set battle against compatriot Misaki Doi in the opening round. Osaka was rattled by Doi in the second set but recovered to claim a hard-fought 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory. The 2018 US Open champion showed glimpses of her best from the baseline and didn’t necessarily play a bad match, however she admitted after her opener that a left hamstring injury which saw her pull out of the Western & southern Open final is still causing her some problems.
Giorgi came through a rollercoaster opening round match at Flushing Meadows. The Italian won the last 4 games as she fought from the brink to defeat Alison Van Uytvanck 2-6 6-1 7-5. Giorgi will need to bring a more consistent level to this clash if she is to get the win.
Osaka won the only previous match between the pair, an easy 6-2 6-3 victory in Tokyo in 2018.
This looms as a real danger match for the fourth seeded Osaka. Giorgi is the type of player that usually raises her level for matches like this, the Italian has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Osaka is certainly the more consistent of the two and has a stronger serve, but Giorgi can match Osaka from the baseline. I’ll give Osaka the benefit of the doubt here, mainly because of her superior serve and greater reliability under pressure.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to defeat Camila Giorgi in 3 sets
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Western & Southern Open – F: preview + prediction: ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka
A blockbuster final between a pair of 2-time major champions and former world number 1’s will decide who takes home the 2020 Western & Southern Open crown. The 4th seeded Naomi Osaka takes on Victoria Azarenka. Expect a high-quality baseline battle here between two proven champions, who will prevail?
It has been a roller-coaster week for Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows in her first event since the tour restart. Osaka started the week with a hard-fought 3 set win over Karolina Muchova before comfortably defeating Dayana Yastremska in straight sets. The 22-year-old was again forced to fight from a set down in her quarter-final clash with Anett Kontaveit before booking her spot in the Saturday’s final with a 6-2 7-6 win over Elise Mertens. It has also been a big week for Osaka off the court after her decision not to take to the court for Thursday’s planned semi-final led to the entire tournament being delayed by a day.
Victoria Azarenka is having her best week on tour in years. The Belarusian stormed through her first 4 matches of the week without dropping a single set, recording wins over Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur. The 2013 Western & Southern Open champion faced her greatest test in the semi-finals where she claimed an impressive 4-6 6-4 6-1 comeback win over Johanna Konta. Azarenka’s return of serve has always been one of her greatest weapons and it did the damage against Konta. Heading into their semi-final clash Konta hadn’t dropped serve all week, the Brit didn’t drop serve in the opening set on Friday before Azarenka broke the Brit’s serve on 5 occasions over the next few sets to make a real statement.
Osaka holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Azarenka. The most recent meeting between the pair took place at Roland Garros last year, Osaka claimed a dramatic 4-6 7-5 6-3 victory despite being outplayed for most of the opening 2 sets.
I’m going to go for the upset here, I think Azarenka has what it takes to defeat Osaka in this final. Azarenka has been at her counter-punching best this week, she will get a chance to play the type of tennis she loves against Osaka. Azarenka thrives on hard, flat hitting from the other side of the net, she gets that against Osaka. The pair play a very similar game, in this situation I’ll side with the tactically astute Azarenka who has been smothering her opponents all week. It feels like there is much more pressure on Osaka heading into this final, Osaka has been the talk of the town over the last few days and that may very well work against her heading into the championship match.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
?? Western & Southern Open – SF Preview + Prediction: ? ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (14) Elise Mertens
The 4th seeded Naomi Osaka comes up against the 14th seeded Elise Mertens at the semi-final stage of the 2020 Western & Southern Open in New York. Osaka has done well to get through a couple of tricky matches this week and enters the semi-final stage as the highest remaining seed, can the Japanese star make it all the way to the final?
Elise Mertens has won more main draw matches than any other player since the tour restart. Mertens reached the final on clay in Prague a few weeks ago and is now into the final 4 at the Western & Southern Open. Mertens has secured 3 commanding straight set wins over Rebecca Peterson, Veronika Kudermetova and Jessica Pegula, In between those wins Mertens was pushed to 3 sets by Kristina Mladenovic. Mertens has now won 8 of her last 9 matches at Flushing Meadows having reached the US Open quarter-finals last year.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Osaka on route to the semi-finals. The 2-time major champion started the event with a gallant 6-7 6-4 6-2 win over Karolina Muchova before hammering Dayana Yastremska 6-3 6-1. Osaka looked down and out in her quarter-final clash with Anett Kontaveit when she trailed by a set and an early break, however Osaka displayed her champion qualities as she turned the match around to win 4-6 6-2 7-5.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Osaka won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-4 6-1 win in Osaka last year, while Mertens won 6-4 1-6 6-4 in Wuhan back in 2017.
This is a tough match to call, a seemingly even match-up between two players with a lot to offer. Osaka’s best is better, but can she consistently play at a high enough level to get the better of an in-form Mertens? I’m leaning towards no. Osaka’s level has been very inconsistent this week. Both have played a lot of tennis over a short period of time this week and will be thinking of conserving energy for the US Open, especially Osaka. Mertens is hard to beat when she is on a roll. Mertens is a fantastic counter-puncher, especially on a quick hard court surface, a solid, consistent effort from Mertens could see her grind out a victory over Osaka.
Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
?? Western & Southern Open – QF Preview + Prediction: ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (12) Anett Kontaveit
Naomi Osaka continues her Western & Southern Open campaign on Wednesday with a quarter-final clash against the 12th seeded Anett Kontaveit at Flushing Meadows. Osaka has won all 3 of the previous meetings between the pair and is showing the form to suggest she can maintain her unbeaten record over the Estonian.
Kontaveit has transitioned nicely from the European clay to the hard courts in New York. Kontaveit was involved in the first tournament of the tour resumption on clay in Palermo a few weeks ago where she made it all the way to the final. The 24-year-old has quickly found her rhythm on the hard courts with 3 commanding straight set wins this week. A 6-3 6-1 win over Daria Kasatkina in the first round, followed by a 6-3 6-4 win over the in-form Jill Teichmann. Kontaveit secured her spot in the final 8 with a 6-3 6-3 win over Marie Bouzkova.
Osaka made a somewhat rusty start in her first tournament since the tour resumption. The 4th seed slowly found her game as she defeated Karolina Muchova 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the second round after receiving a bye through the first round. Osaka produced a far, far more commanding performance in the third round where she smashed the 16th seeded Dayana Yastremska 6-3 6-1 in what was a statement victory at the venue where Osaka won her first major title.
Osaka holds a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Kontaveit. The 2-time major champion has won their two most recent matches in straight sets, including a 6-2 7-6 victory in Dubai in 2018 in their latest clash.
I’m going to side with Osaka here. The quick hard courts at Flushing Meadows suit the Osaka game perfectly. Osaka played a great match against Yastremska in the previous match, a similar performance here will see her win fairly comfortably against an opponent she has a great record against. Kontaveit is also playing well but this is a step up for her. Osaka is more powerful and generally more consistent, a bad match-up for Kontaveit.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to defeat Anett Kontaveit in 2 sets
?? Western & Southern Open – R2 Preview + Prediction: ?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? Karolina Muchova
Naomi Osaka begins her Western & Southern Open campaign on Monday with a tricky second round clash against Karolina Muchova. The fourth seeded Osaka received a bye through the opening round whilst Muchova took care of business against Ann Li with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory.
Naomi Osaka will be playing her first competitive match since a disappointing pair of losses early in the year, a third round exit at the Australian Open in January at the hands of Cori Gauff followed by a miserable loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo a few weeks later in a Fed Cup match. It’s a huge break between matches for Osaka, greater than most other players on tour who have at least played some exhibition matches or a tournament before arriving in New York.
Karolina Muchova is also playing her first official tournament since February, but the Czech player was involved in a number of exhibition events during the official tour shutdown. Muchova played 11 exhibition matches in total where she picked up some decent wins over solid opponents such as Barbora Strycova, Katerina Siniakova and Iga Swiatek. The 24-year-old made a decent start in New York with a relatively easy straight set win over Ann Li.
This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Muchova, an interesting match-up between two young players who have rapidly climbed the rankings in recent years.
I’m going to go for the upset here. I think Muchova has what it takes to expose a potentially rusty Osaka. Muchova has the perfect mix of power and versatility to trouble Osaka, especially if the Japanese players is off her game, which is likely here given she hasn’t played a match in a long time. Osaka has historically struggled against versatile players such as Anastasija Sevastova, Su-Wei Hsieh and Yulia Putintseva. Muchova has a quality net game, nice touch and importantly a solid backhand slice, this combination has historically made Osaka uncomfortable. If Muchova plays the right way she can cause an upset here.
Prediction: Karolina Muchova to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
???? 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.
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.
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
???? 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
???? 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