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Australian Open 2019, Women’s Final: Naomi Osaka vs Petra Kvitova, Preview and Prediction

ANALYST
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1.36K   //    24 Jan 2019, 14:05 IST

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka

The Australian Open 2019 women’s final is set to witness an exciting clash between two grand slam champions – the veteran Petra Kvitova, and the rising star from the country of the rising sun, Naomi Osaka.

Both have had contrasting runs to the summit clash. For Kvitova, the journey has been a fairly smooth one. She has not even lost a set so far in the tournament. In fact, the closest someone has come to taking a set off her happened only at the semi-final stage where Danielle Collins took the first set to a tie-break.

But after winning the tie-break, Kvitova simply bulldozed her way through to the final by handing a bagel to Collins in the second set.

As she described after her quarter final-match, it is her ‘second career’ after the unfortunate knife attack derailed her for a lengthy period. On the evidence of her performances so far, this could even be better than her ‘first career’, where she had won two Wimbledon titles.

Here, she has an opportunity to not only win her first Australian Open title, but also become world number one for the first time in her career.

In the year’s first grand slam, she has been serving exceptionally well. Though she was broken early in the first set against Collins, she not only broke back, but rarely looked in danger of losing her serve after that.

Petra Kvitova after her semi-final win at the 2019 Australian Open
Petra Kvitova after her semi-final win at the 2019 Australian Open

In the semi-final, she not only had impressive first serve win percentage, but her second serve win percentage too was at a high 72. Her opponent in the final, Naomi Osaka, too has the reputation of a big server, with hard groundstrokes.

Though Osaka’s groundstrokes have been quite good, it is her serve that has strangely let her down many a time during the tournament. She has been broken thirteen times in the tournament so far and as a result, she has not had a smooth run to the final.

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Unlike Kvitova, Osaka has been taken to three sets in three out of her six matches so far, including her semi-final clash against Karolina Pliskova. But her big match temperament and calmness under pressure has seen her through tough phases so far.

After losing the second set to Pliskova, she kept her calm and trusted her game to pull off another impressive three-set victory to end a ten-match winning streak of the Czech player, who ironically had done the same to the Japanese player at the Pan Pacific Open last year.

But after getting past one Czech player, she runs into another one, who has been in simply irresistible form in this tournament. To get it past the in-form Kvitova, Osaka will need to improve her serve.

There is a huge contrast between her first and second serve, in terms of speed and impact. Against Pliskova, she won a meager 43% of her second serves. She cannot afford to do that against Kvitova who is a better returner than Pliskova.

As she has shown in her short career so far, especially in that now-famous 2018 US Open final against Serena Williams, she has the game and the temperament to get past more established players on the biggest of stages.

But she will need to raise her performance to have a chance in the final this time, against the most dominant player of the tournament so far.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to win in three Sets


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