The two women who were due to meet in the Western & Southern final in the Cincinnati event a couple of weeks ago will actually face each other in the final of the US Open on Saturday night when Naomi Osaka takes on Victoria Azarenka in New York.
Osaka pulled out of that final with injury so we were denied what felt like being a great showdown on that occasion. Little has changed in terms of expectations from these two Grand Slam champions, one of whom will bag a third major title for their CV here.
We’ve seen both sides of Naomi Osaka in this tournament. She was a little sloppy and slack in the opening week of the event but in the second week she has found some of her very best tennis and looks very much like the player who won here two years ago. She is serving about as well as I’ve seen in the women’s game in quite some time and her heavy hitting is backing that up nicely. You get the feeling she is peaking at the right time.
Osaka hasn’t had it easy to get to this stage by any means. In the last three rounds she has taken care of Anett Kontaveit and Shelby Rogers in straight sets before coming through a brilliant semi-final with Jennifer Brady. You could argue that they aren’t the toughest players in terms of rankings but they were all hitting the ball very cleanly going into those contests and barely landed a blow on the classy Japanese star.
It feels like we have gone back in time to the early 2010s because Victoria Azarenka has looked as good as ever over this fortnight and the match she played against Serena Williams in the semi-final might just have been the best she has ever produced. She wasn’t bad in the quarter final either when she took Elise Mertens to the cleaners and with the confidence she picked up from her run in the Cincinnati event, she is clearly a danger in this final.
The key thing here will be how Azarenka serves. She is such a good returner that you get the impression she’ll find a way to get at the Osaka serve but if she can’t hold her own service games then she is going to have an issue. It is imperative she holds serve as comfortably as she can. If she does that she is hitting the ball well, moving fantastically and looking like a winner of a Grand Slam in waiting once again.
Opt in and place 5 accumulators either in a Boylesports shop or online and get an acca free! Click the image below to bet. ALL CUSTOMERS! 18+ T&Cs apply. Gamble Aware.
Head to Head
These two women have met on three previous occasions. Azarenka won the first meeting in 2015 before Osaka was really established as a player but the Japanese player has won their two more recent battles, the last of which was at the French Open last year when Osaka came from a set down to win 6-3 in a deciding set. Both of Osaka’s wins have been on clay so I’m not entirely sure we can take too much from the historic battles between the two, especially when you would say this is the first time they have met when both have been on top of their game.
This feels like a more even final than the odds suggest and as long as there is no comedown from beating Serena I suspect Victoria Azarenka could be the value in this match. Naomi Osaka is a class act but she is the favourite here and I’m still not convinced it is in her character to be comfortable as a favourite in these kind of matches. When she won here two years ago she had nothing to lose and all the pressure was on Serena so the roles are reversed this time.
You get the impression this is a final that is going to be decided on fine margins so 1/2 against 13/8 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It isn’t like Azarenka has been any worse than Osaka. In fact her last two wins very much match up to anything the Japanese player has produced in the tournament so the fact that Azarenka might be able to play with an ounce more freedom than her younger opponent could give her the micro-edge that decides this.
Back V.Azarenka to beat N.Osaka for a 3/10 stake at 2.63 with BetVictor
Back her here: