?? 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.