?? 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.