Date: 12 March 2022.
Tournament: BNP Paribas Open.
Round: Second round (Round of 64).
Venue: Indian Wells, USA.
Category: WTA 1000.
Prize money: $8,369,455.
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video.
Veronika Kudermetova vs Naomi Osaka preview
21st seed Veronika Kudermetova will take on four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the second round of the 2022 Indian Wells Open on Saturday.
Kudermetova's results in singles this year have been very contrasting. She's been a runner-up twice, at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Dubai Tennis Championships. She also managed a respectable third-round showing at the Australian Open.
However, the 24-year-old has made early exits from her other tournaments, losing in the opening rounds at St. Petersburg and Qatar.
Kudermetova has been more consistent in doubles events this year. Alongside partner Elise Mertens, the duo made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open. They then won the title in Dubai and reached the final in Qatar. Their only blip was a first-round loss in the California desert.
The Russian received a first-round bye at Indian Wells.
Meanwhile, former Indian Wells champion Osaka had a tough first-round match against Sloane Stephens. The 2017 US Open champion was fresh off a title run in Guadalajara. The duo also had to deal with extremely windy conditions during their match.
Stephens came out of the gates swinging, winning the opening set 6-3. However, Osaka stepped up her game to claim the second set 6-1. The American took a 2-0 lead in the deciding set and had three break points to make it 3-0. However, Osaka reeled off, winning six games on the trot and completed a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 comeback win.
Playing in the tournament for the first time since 2019, Osaka navigated tricky conditions and an even trickier opponent for a winning return.
Veronika Kudermetova vs Naomi Osaka head-to-head
The duo were expected to face off in the semifinals of the Melbourne Summer Set at the start of the year. However, Osaka withdrew prior to the match due to an injury, giving Kudermetova a walkover, which doesn't count as a win or loss for either player. So the head-to-head remains tied at 0-0 for now.
Veronika Kudermetova vs Naomi Osaka prediction
While Kudermetova has recorded better results than Osaka this year, she has also been very inconsistent. Her deep runs have been balanced out by her early exits.
Both players are known for their aggressive brand of tennis along with their powerful serves. Kudermetova's doubles experience will also be a huge asset against Osaka. If the Russian is able to force her opponent to come to the net often, she'll have the upper hand.
Kudermetova could also attempt to move the former World No. 1 around the court more often. If she's not at her best, Osaka's groundstrokes lose a bit of their sting as she attempts to hit them on the move.
However, the Japanese displayed a great deal of patience and tactical acumen in her match against Stephens. Osaka overcame a slow start to get the better of her opponent and against Kudermetova, she's likely to do the same.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in three sets.