Fixture: (3) Naomi Osaka vs Marie Bouzkova
Date: 30 August 2021
Tournament: 2021 US Open
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $40,560,000
Match timing: Approx. 7.30 pm local time, 11.30 pm GMT, 5 am IST (Tuesday)
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN/ESPN 2 | UK - Amazon Prime Video | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Naomi Osaka vs Marie Bouzkova preview
Defending champion Naomi Osaka will begin her US Open 2021 campaign against World No. 86 Marie Bouzkova on Monday. And while Osaka is has been one of the world's best hardcourt players over the last few years, she comes into the tournament with a few concerns.
The 23-year-old hasn't played a lot of tennis since her withdrawal from the second round of Roland Garros. In fact, she's played just two tournaments - the Tokyo Olympics and the Cincinnati Masters - losing in the third round of both.
That said, Osaka has already won a Slam this year, at the Australian Open. Her form might be a concern, but the Japanese is known to peak at the big tournaments.
Having already won four Majors in her career, Osaka would consider herself one of the favorites in New York this year. She has a uniquely impressive record at Grand Slams, having never lost a match after crossing the Round of 16.
Bouzkova also comes into the US Open on the back of a few worrying losses. In fact, the Czech has been unable to win a main-draw match in the last six tournaments she's played.
However, she had a good result in doubles at Prague last month, where she lifted the title with compatriot Lucie Hradecka.
Bouzkova's best singles result of 2021 came at the Phillip Island Trophy in February, where she made the final. She has only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Naomi Osaka vs Marie Bouzkova head-to-head
Naomi Osaka and Marie Bouzkova have met once on tour before, in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open. Osaka won in straight sets then, taking the match 6-2, 6-4, and thus leads their head-to-head 1-0.
Naomi Osaka vs Marie Bouzkova prediction
Naomi Osaka's powerful baseline play and big serve are the biggest assets of her game. However, as we saw in Cincinnati, the 23-year-old has struggled to control her groundstrokes of late.
Osaka was very erratic in the third-round match against Jil Teichmann, as she produced a bunch of unforced errors from the baseline. The Japanese would be hoping to iron them out the moment she takes the court at Flushing Meadows.
Being an accomplished and experienced doubles player, Marie Bouzkova has strong reflexes and impressive movement. She is likely to give the third seed a tough time in the first round.
That said, Osaka should have enough in her tank to beat the World No. 86.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in straight sets.