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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Naomi Osaka's projected path to the final

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka
FEATURED COLUMNIST

Naomi Osaka will return to action for the first time in more than a month at the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese has not played a single match since pulling out of Roland Garros last month due to mental health issues.

The reigning Australian Open champion, who has been in the news for a number of reasons recently, will be keen to let her racquet do the talking in Tokyo.

The four-time Grand Slam champion is seeded second in the 64-player women's singles draw and is one of the favorites for the gold medal.

On that note, here's a look at her potential path to the final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Naomi Osaka's 1st round opponent - Saisai Zheng

Naomi Osaka during a practice session ahead of the Tokyo Olympics
Naomi Osaka during a practice session ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

Naomi Osaka has been placed in a relatively easy section of the draw. The World No. 2 kickstarts her challenge against the 52nd ranked Saisai Zheng. The Japanese has beaten Zheng in two of their three meetings, with both her victories coming straight sets.

Naomi Osaka's likely 2nd round opponent - Viktorija Golubic

The former World No. 1 will then likely come up against Viktorija Golubic, who enters the Olympics on the back of her maiden Slam quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon.

Golubic and Osaka have never crossed paths on the tour before, and given the Swiss' lack of experience at the highest level, she isn't likely to pose much of a threat to the Japanese.

Naomi Osaka's likely 3rd round opponent - Kiki Bertens

In the third round, the Japanese could come face to face with World No. 21 Kiki Bertens. The Dutchwoman, who is set to retire at the end of the season, is currently on a four-match losing streak.

Osaka leads their head-to-head 2-1 and should not have too much trouble advancing to the quarterfinals.

Naomi Osaka's likely quarter-final opponent - Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek

According to the seedings, Osaka is projected to face 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals. Osaka and Swiatek previously met at Toronto in 2019, with the Japanese triumphing in two tight sets.

The Pole has won a couple of titles this year and she will have plenty of confidence heading into the Olympics. She could certainly give Osaka a run for her money should they meet in the last eight.

But if Swiatek falls early, Osaka could face World No. 17 Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals. Osaka has won three of four meetings with the Belgian.

Naomi Osaka's likely semi-final opponent - Karolina Pliskova / Maria Sakkari

Naomi Osaka could meet either Karolina Pliskova or Maria Sakkari in the semifinals. The Czech finished as the runner-up at Wimbledon and could be a huge threat to Osaka given she leads the head-to-head against the Japanese 3-2.

Sakkari also has the tools to down Osaka. The Greek trails the head-to-head against Osaka 3-2 but did win their most recent encounter in straight sets in Miami earlier this year.

Naomi Osaka's likely opponent in the final - Ashleigh Barty

If the seeds hold up, Naomi Osaka will face Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty in the final in a blockbuster battle between past and present World No. 1s. The two are tied 2-2 in their head-to-head with Osaka winning their most recent match in Beijing in 2019.

But Barty will first have to navigate a tricky section of the draw, which includes a potential semi-final meeting with Aryna Sabalenka.

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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