Fixture: Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Date: February 8, 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD 80 million
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel
Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova preview
Naomi Osaka's path to a second Australian Open crown is fraught with hurdles at every step. Drawn in the third quarter, the 2019 champion is one of the six Grand Slam winners in her section.
First up for the third seed is Russia's former World No. 13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has had some big results in Melbourne Park over the years.
Pavlyuchenkova is coming into this year's tournament on the back of consecutive quarterfinal showings Down Under, and will definitely be high on confidence.
The Russian has a power-packed game that is tailor-made for the hardcourts of Australia. She has strong groundstrokes off both wings and enjoys coming forward to finish off points quickly.
Against a formidable opponent in the form of Osaka, Pavlyuchenkova will need all of those elements of her game to come together on Monday.
Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova head-to-head
Naomi Osaka leads Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-1 in career head-to-head matchups. The last time the two met was in 2019, where the Japanese youngster came out on top in straight sets.
Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova prediction
Naomi Osaka enters the Australian Open as one of the firm contenders for the title. Needless to say, she will be a favourite heading into this first-round contest as well.
The 23-year-old has looked sharp in the few matches that she has played this year, and is capable of dominating matches from the baseline. However, she will still need to be wary of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is just as able an aggressor.
The match is likely to see a lot of quick rallies and first-strike tennis, as neither woman likes to slug it out from the baseline. But given Osaka's recent streak (she hasn't lost a match since the return of tennis at Cincinnati last year), she should be able to get past Pavlyuchenkova.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in three sets.