???? 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.