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Osaka vs Kenin WTA Cincinnati live streaming, preview and tips - Kenin targets second No. 1 scalp in as many weeks

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 16 Aug 2019
  • Naomi Osaka vs Sofia Kenin is live from Cincinnati around 3.00pm local time on Friday (8.00pm BST)
  • Osaka won their only previous tour-level clash at the French Open in 2018
Naomi Osaka (PA Images)

Naomi Osaka continues her bid for a second title of the season when she faces rising 20-year-old Sofia Kenin in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals in Cincinnati on Friday.

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World No. 1 Naomi Osaka targets her first semi-final since April when she comes up against the impressive Sofia Kenin in the Cincinnati quarter-finals on Friday.

Osaka arrived in Cincinnati without a match win at the tournament and down on victories as a whole following a challenging overall season, but the World No. 1 has been fighting hard to make the quarter-finals, overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Hsieh Su-Wei in three sets. Osaka had already played the tricky and unorthodox Hsieh three times this season, winning two of them, but every clash was an immense battle - and Thursday’s showdown proved no different. The pair split the first two sets, but Osaka was able to raise her level in the decider, winning four straight games at one points to come away with a 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2 victory.

“I thought I did pretty well,” Osaka said after the win. “I feel like I knew going into the match that she was going to play really well. Like, we have such long matches every time we play, so I wasn't expecting anything different this time around."

As she did in her win over Sasnovich, Osaka was smiling frequently throughout the gruelling two-and-a-half hour contest, which is a result of her declaring she was ready to start enjoying tennis again after a difficult season.

Osaka, after winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last year, went on to secure her second major in blistering style at the Australian Open to launch 2019, beating Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova back-to-back to do so, which also led to the Japanese rising to the World No. 1 ranking. However, Osaka would go on to surprisingly split with coach Sascha Bajin, and ever since she’s struggled, failing to beat a top 20 player and suffering a number of poor defeats, including a third round exit at Roland Garros and a first round elimination at Wimbledon.

However, in saying that, Osaka was never really the best player on natural surfaces, so you could argue her quiet clay and grass swings were to be somewhat expected, but now that she’s back on hardcourts, the pressure is well and truly on for the 21-year-old to recapture her best tennis - especially with her U.S. Open title defence coming up later this month. Next up for Osaka in Cincinnati is someone younger than her - but a player that could easily be in the top 10 by the end of the season.

Sofia Kenin (PA Images)
Sofia Kenin made two semi-finals in Mallorca and Quebec City last year, along with representing USA in the Fed Cup final, to finish the season just outside the top 50, but she’s taken her game to another level in 2019, winning her maiden WTA title in Hobart and pushing Simona Halep all the way at the Australian Open, before going on to quickly make her second WTA final in Acapulco, beating Victoria Azarenka and Bianca Andreescu along the way, but this time she went down to Wang Yafan in the title match. Kenin would have been disappointed with early exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid, but to be fair, she lost to Elina Svitolina, Andreescu and Petra Kvitova in those tournaments, while in three of her next four tournaments, the American was knocked out by top 10 players, which proves it’s taking the very best to beat her these days.


Kenin went on to secure the biggest win of her career as she beat Serena Williams to make the fourth round of the French Open, where she went down in three sets to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty, and not long after she captured her second title of the year, beating Belinda Bencic for the Mallorca Open silverware. Throw in a run to the Rogers Cup semi-finals last week, where she avenged her French Open loss to Barty and conquered Elina Svitolina, and this week’s run to the Cincinnati quarter-finals, defeating Svitolina for the second time in two weeks in the R16, and Kenin is on the cusp of a top 20 debut.

In her current form, Kenin has got to be considered a real chance to take out Osaka in the quarter-finals. It’s hard to say if Osaka is building to something at the moment - she’s fighting and smiling, but her overall level is still up for question, while Kenin has been playing some excellent tennis all season. Osaka has the power and weapons to hit through the American, but I’m no sure if the World No. 1 is striking the ball cleanly enough to consistently overpower Kenin’s defences. If Kenin keeps up her current form, I think she’s playing good enough to claim another big scalp and reach back-to-back Premier-5 semi-finals.


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Osaka vs Kenin WTA Cincinnati live streaming, preview and tips - Kenin targets second No. 1 scalp in as many weeks

Naomi Osaka continues her bid for a second title of the season when she faces rising 20-year-old Sofia Kenin in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals in Cincinnati on Friday.

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