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Osaka vs Azarenka US Open tennis live streaming, preview and predictions

A second US Open title for Naomi Osaka, or the end of a seven-year Grand Salm drought for Victoria Azarenka? An extraordinary US Open final awaits.

Osaka vs Azarenka is live from New York on Saturday 12 September, 4pm local/9pm BST

The final that we didn’t get to see in ‘Cincinnati’ will instead take place on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the grand prize – a Grand Slam title – as Naomi Osaka, the 2018 US Open champion, faces off with the resurgent Victoria Azarenka, into her first major final in seven years.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

It’s a fitting finale to this unusual but gripping US Open after both women fought their way through a pair of classic semifinals, Osaka beating Jennifer Brady while Azarenka avenged two US Open final defeats to Serena Williams.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Azarenka: Head-to-head

Naomi Osaka leads the head-to-head with Victoria Azarenka 2-1, having beaten her in Rome in 2018 and at the French Open in 2019.

Their only match on hard courts was a win for Azarenka, 6-1, 6-1 at the Australian Open in 2016.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Preview

There was a lot of talk about asterisks in the run-up to this US Open, but whoever wins the title will have earned it by playing some spectacular tennis against tough opponents – not least the one they face in the final.

Osaka, the favourite, has never lost a Grand Slam final and has a 5-2 record in WTA Tour finals overall. The Japanese-Haitian player has spoken of the importance of sustaining a positive attitude and that’s been evident; even when her matches have got tough – taken to three sets as she was twice in the first three rounds, by Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk – Osaka has not got tight, neither backing off her shots nor going for too much but maintaining an easy, relaxed balance between dictating play and not allowing her unforced errors to get out of control.

Most top players would have lost to Brady, who continues to dazzle in 2020 and who competed brilliantly in her first Grand Slam semifinal. Osaka not only had the weapons to match Brady shot for shot, but managed to stay creative and positive and was the more consistent player throughout; she also showed no sign of fatigue or fading physically, which could be crucial in the final.

Victoria Azarenka is 0-2 in US Open finals (PA Images)

As well as Azarenka played against Serena Williams, and she did, Williams definitely did fade physically – although Azarenka’s superb tennis did play its role in that, too. A firestorm of first-strike tennis from Williams in the first set passed over Azarenka without damaging her self-belief, and then the Belarusian went to work, elevating her game in the second set. For a player who is fundamentally a counterpuncher, Azarenka does a very credible impression of a power player through absorbing and redirecting her opponent’s pace, refusing to back off from the baseline and taking the ball incredibly early. She also served very, very well; the most vulnerable shot in her arsenal looked rock solid under extreme pressure.

The head-to-head isn’t too helpful in this one. It’s tempting to conclude that if Osaka can beat Azarenka on clay, she can certainly do it on hard courts, a surface on which Osaka is much more comfortable; but Azarenka in 2018-19 was not playing anything like the Azarenka of this fortnight. She’s playing like the Azarenka of 2016, who thumped Osaka 6-1, 6-1; but then Osaka in 2016 was not the player she has become over the past few years. My instinct is that power – offensive, point-ending shots – will generally trump defense, and that Azarenka’s serve will at some point let her down. But Azarenka is playing too well not to make the match a decent length.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Prediction

Naomi Osaka has never lost a Grand Slam semifinal – will she keep that streak alive as she faces Jennifer Brady at the US Open?

Osaka vs Brady is live from New York on Wednesday 9 September, 7pm local/12am BST

Every time in her young career that Naomi Osaka has reached the semifinals of a major, the Japanese-Haitian player has gone on to win the title. Is the 2018 US Open champion headed back to the final in New York?

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Osaka is up against a player in Jennifer Brady, however, who has been a revelation in 2020, transformed by a revamped off-season training regimen and new team set-up. Brady has yet to lose a set at the US Open – can Osaka halt her headlong run?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Brady live

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Osaka vs Brady: Head-to-head

The head-to-head between Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady is 1-1. Brady beat Osaka 6-4, 6-4 at an ITF tournament in 2014. Osaka won their only WTA Tour-level match in 2018 on green clay in Charleston, 6-4, 6-4.

Osaka vs Brady: Preview

Not that there’s a huge sample size, but historically, Naomi Osaka has been unstoppable by this point in a Grand Slam. The world no. 9 has only twice been past the round of 16 at a major, and both times she’s won that tournament, at the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

I was sceptical that Osaka would still be in the tournament at this stage when she pulled out of the Western & Southern Open final just two days before her first US Open match due to a left hamstring injury, and became even more so when she was taken to three sets twice in her first three matches, by Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk.

But although she is still playing with her left thigh heavily strapped, Osaka has said that the injury is bothering her less and less, and she has played her two finest matches of the tournament in the last two rounds, beating Anett Kontaveit and Shelby Rogers by identical scorelines: 6-3, 6-4.

The fact that Osaka beat two very in-form big-serving power players in straight sets is very relevant, because Jennifer Brady is another player very much in that mould.

Jennifer Brady hasn’t dropped a set at the US Open (PA Images)

The American’s last two opponents, Yulia Putintseva and Angelique Kerber, were counterpunchers above all else, and Brady was able to blast through them with the devastating, accurate power that’s the trademark of her game, particularly on the forehand wing. She needed an MTO against Kerber and wasn’t moving quite as freely as she has been against Putintseva, although she had such a power advantage and was so confident that it didn’t really matter.

Playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, however, the nerves have to be immense, and any physical question marks are likely to come back to haunt her; in Osaka, moreover, Brady has an opponent who can dictate points as effortlessly as she herself does. Osaka seems entirely in the groove of this tournament now, and she’s very difficult to beat when that’s the case. She beat Brady 6-4, 6-4 in their only previous WTA Tour-level meeting, and a similar scoreline seems likely in Thursday’s US Open semifinal.

Osaka vs Brady: Prediction

Naomi Osaka has never beaten Shelby Rogers – but there’s no better time to do so than in the quarterfinals of the US Open.

Osaka vs Rogers is live from New York on Tuesday 8 September, 7pm local/12am BST

Naomi Osaka is back into the quarterfinals for the first time since claiming the US Open title in 2018 and not looking too eager to depart this tournament, judging by her performance against Anett Kontaveit in the fourth round.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

The world no. 9 is up against powerful American Shelby Rogers, who has justified her red-hot pre-tournament form with a run to the quarterfinals, saving four match points against Petra Kvitova. Rogers has won all three previous meetings with Osaka.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Rogers: Head-to-head

Shelby Rogers leads the head-to-head with Naomi Osaka 3-0, although they have only played once at WTA Tour level – on the green clay of Charleston in 2017. Their two previous meetings were in 2013 and 2015, before Osaka broke into the top 200.

Osaka vs Rogers: Preview

As well as she played to reach the final of the Western & Southern Open the week before the US Open began, the left hamstring injury which Osaka incurred in the closing stages of her semifinal match against Elise Mertens and which caused her to pull out of the final she was due to play against Victoria Azarenka looked as if it might doom her campaign.

Four matches later, however, and those expectations must be revised. Osaka weathered tough three-set clashes with Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk to reach the last 16, before improving to 5-0 vs Anett Kontaveit, the in-form Estonian who had pushed Osaka all the way to 5-7 in the third in ‘Cincinnati’.

Osaka delivered a brilliant serving performance against Kontaveit – no slouch herself in that department – as she lost just nine points behind first and second serve combined throughout the match. She didn’t face a single break point herself, while creating ten opportunities on Kontaveit’s serve, converting three.

Osaka also, ominously, said that her leg was feeling better, which is not good news for quarterfinal opponent Rogers.

Shelby Rogers lost over a year of her career to injury (PA Images)

‘Resurgence’ has been the keynote for some of the most notable players in the women’s draw so far this fortnight – Victoria Azarenka, Tsvetana Pironkova – and it’s what it’s all about for Rogers, too. The American was a quarterfinalist at the French Open in 2016, but lost almost an entire season in 2018 to a knee injury and didn’t return until April 2019, when she was unranked.

Rogers’ charge back up the rankings has been accomplished at breakneck speed, but although she was having good results at the start of the year – qualifying for the Australian Open and winning the $100k in Midland – they didn’t really catch the eye. But beating Serena Williams in Lexington did, and at the US Open she beat 11th seed Elena Rybakina among others and didn’t drop a set until she came up against Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova had lost to Rogers in their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2016, but that one was relatively tame compared to the thrills and swings of this US Open clash, which a lot of people missed because Novak Djokovic was being defaulted on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Rogers played some extraordinary tennis to weather four match points and beat Kvitova 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(6).

Rogers is not an easy opponent here. But I do think she’s one that Osaka can beat, despite that head-to-head. Unlike Kvitova’s flat strokes, Osaka hits a heavy ball, like Rogers herself, and it puts a different complexion on things. The fourth seed shouldn’t miss as much as Kvitova did, and her ability to use short angles to open the court should be effective. Rogers and Kontaveit play somewhat similarly, and that will help to make it a comfortable match-up for Osaka.

Osaka vs Rogers: Prediction

Anett Kontaveit has never beaten Naomi Osaka – can she find a way to do so with a place in the quarterfinals of the US Open on the line?

Osaka vs Kontaveit is live from New York on Sunday 6 September, 8.30pm local/1.30am BST

Despite an ongoing left hamstring injury, 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka has made it to the last 16 in New York for the third year in a row – and she has an unbeaten 4-0 record vs her opponent Anett Kontaveit.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Kontaveit, who is looking to make her second Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year, came as close as she ever has to beating Osaka when they played less than two weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open, before the Japanese-Haitian player pulled off a great escape. With Osaka hampered by injury, could this be Kontaveit’s chance?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Kontaveit: Head-to-head

Naomi Osaka has a 4-0 record vs Anett Kontaveit, with three of their matches having taken place on hard courts. That includes their most recent encounter, when Kontaveit led 6-4, 2-0 before losing 6-4, 2-6, 5-7.

Osaka vs Kontaveit: Preview

It was a potential fourth-round match that drew everybody’s eye when the draw was released, but there were times when it looked like Osaka and Kontaveit would not manage to meet in the last 16.

Anett Kontaveit has won six straight sets at the US Open, averaging 2.3 games lost in those six sets (PA Images)

Estonia’s Kontaveit has been largely unwavering, continuing her very, very strong form from the first half of 2020, both sides of the shutdown. The powerful 24-year-old, coached by Nigel Sears, made her first major quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January, then returned from hiatus to make the final in Palermo and the quarterfinals in ‘Cincinnati’, where she was stopped by Osaka; at the US Open, she dropped the first set 5-7 to former Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins, but has won six straight sets since then against Collins, Kaja Juvan and Magda Linette, dropping an average 2.3 games in each of those sets.

Kontaveit thus enters the match at a clear physical advantage: She’s an incredibly fit player, and has kept her time on court to a minimum, conserving plenty of energy for tougher challenges.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

Osaka, meanwhile, has not had quite such a smooth path. The Japanese-Haitian player impressed at the Western & Southern Open, not least with her wins over Kontaveit and Elise Mertens, but injured her leg in the late stages of the latter match and pulled out before the final against Victoria Azarenka. The last thing she needed was tough matches during the first week, but that’s what she got, dropping the second set against Misaki Doi in the first round.

Osaka lost just three games against a below-par Camila Giorgi in the second, but in the third round she again found herself having to work very hard against an impressive Marta Kostyuk. The 18-year-old Ukrainian had first made the third round of a major as a 15-year-old at the 2018 Australian Open, and she played very well against Osaka, constantly attacking the net and producing some dazzling tennis. Osaka won the first set, but slightly lost her way after Kostyuk needed a lengthy medical time-out at the beginning of the second, and ended up losing it in a tie-break. The fourth seed had to save five break points at 1-2 in the decider, before going on to break Kostyuk twice to record a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory in just under two and a half hours.

I still think Osaka’s leg is a concern, and these types of matches will not have helped it. The match against Kontaveit in ‘Cincinnati’ really was very close, with Osaka’s slightly more creative shotmaking – the ability to open the court with shorter, angled balls – one of the things that made the difference in the end. Kontaveit has a big serve, powerful groundstrokes and she’s playing like a well-oiled machine right now

Osaka vs Kontaveit: Prediction

Naomi Osaka faces 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk, a rising player on an impressive run, with a place in the last 16 at the US Open on the line.

Osaka vs Kostyuk is live from New York on Friday 4 September, time TBC

Still struggling with the left hamstring injury which saw her pull out of the final of the Western & Southern Open, Naomi Osaka tries to avoid her third last-32 defeat in the past five majors as she takes on Marta Kostyuk on Friday.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Kostyuk made headlines as a 15-year-old phenomenon and has already upset a former top-10 player and a former US Open semifinalist to reach the third round – will a former US Open champion be the Ukrainian teenager’s next victim?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Kostyuk: Head-to-head

This will be the first match between Naomi Osaka and Marta Kostyuk.

Osaka vs Kostyuk: Preview

Once you reach the top of the game, it doesn’t take very long before the up-and-comers start jostling to take you down, and that’s certainly been Naomi Osaka’s experience. The Japanese-Haitian player transformed herself swiftly from rising threat to world no. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion, and pretty much immediately had to start fending off rising threats herself.

Osaka escaped having to face one of those rising threats, Coco Gauff – who had beaten her in the third round of the Australian Open in January – in the third round, but instead faces another, and possibly more dangerous because less known, up-and-comer: 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk.

Marta Kostyuk broke records when she made the third round of the Australian Open in 2018 (PA Images)

Kostyuk, an Australian Open junior champion in 2017, made her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open in 2018 when she became the first player born in the 2000s to reach the main draw of a major, and went on to reach the third round, the youngest player to do so at a Grand Slam since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the US Open in 1997. Kostyuk narrowly missed out on qualifying for Wimbledon the same year, rising to world no. 116, but her ranking dropped through a quieter 2019 which saw her reach two ITF finals and made a WTA quarterfinal in Strasbourg, compiling a 35-16 win-loss record without really making the headlines.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

These years are incredibly difficult to navigate for young players, so a season spent quietly gaining matches, experience and confidence as opposed to meteorically rising through the rankings is no bad thing. Kostyuk won the ITF $60k in Cairo before the shutdown and after it, played qualifying for Palermo and Prague, reaching the main draw at the latter. As a result she came into the US Open with some matches under her belt and has scored two very impressive wins there. Daria Kasatkina, who went down 1-6, 2-6 in the first round, is slumping badly, but Anastasija Sevastova in the second had just knocked out Coco Gauff in a thriller and also has a win over Serena Williams in 2020. Sevastova also plays very well at the US Open, making the semifinals in 2018, and Kostyuk’s 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over her was noteworthy.

Osaka, meanwhile, got dragged to three sets by Misaki Doi in the first round, and although she had a very quick win over Camila Giorgi in the second, that had a lot to do with a very poor performance from Giorgi, who put up little resistance in a 1-6, 2-6 defeat.

Osaka had her thigh heavily strapped for the Giorgi match, and based purely on the look of things, I think she’ll be in trouble as soon as she faces a player who can really make her run. Kostyuk can certainly do that. The 18-year-old has nothing to lose, loves the big stage and I wouldn’t entirely be surprised if she pulled off a huge upset win on Friday.

Osaka vs Kostyuk: Prediction

Naomi Osaka is one of the favourites for the US Open title: Can she maintain that status as she takes on Camila Giorgi in the second round on Wednesday?

Osaka vs Giorgi is live from New York on Wednesday 2 September, time TBC

A left hamstring injury incurred in the latter stages of her Western & Southern Open semifinal match against Elise Mertens prevented Naomi Osaka from facing Victoria Azarenka in her first WTA final of 2020, but Osaka weathered the injury to get a first-round win under her belt at the US Open, although she wasn’t able to prevent Misaki Doi from dragging her to a decider.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Osaka faces another talented and even tougher opponent in Camila Giorgi on Wednesday, as the hard-hitting Italian attempts to prevent the fourth seed from reaching the last 32 in New York.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Giorgi live

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Osaka vs Giorgi: Head-to-head

Osaka won her only previous match against Giorgi 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in September 2018.

Osaka vs Giorgi: Preview

Osaka’s hopes of capturing a second US Open title this fortnight – which she was hotly tipped to do after an impressive run to the final at the Western & Southern Open – took a blow when she injured her left hamstring late in the semifinal against Mertens. Ironically, Osaka’s stand against racist police violence – a cause she remains publicly committed to, wearing a mask that read ‘Breonna Taylor’ on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night – which led to the semifinal being played on Friday, not Thursday as originally scheduled, left the world no. 10 short on precious recovery time ahead of the US Open, not that this consideration would weigh with Osaka.

The fourth seed had won her only previous encounter with compatriot Misaki Doi in straight sets, but after dominating the first set on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday, she found herself dragged to a decider despite breaking Doi back when Doi served for the second set, and having three break points which would have seen her serving for the match had she converted any of them.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

Osaka won the third set as one-sidedly as she had claimed the first, but being taken the distance in the first round was the last thing she needed and her performance for me wasn’t too convincing – if she keeps allowing her opponents back into the match, sooner or later she will encounter one who won’t go away easily in the decider.

Camila Giorgi is 9-19 vs top-10 players (PA Images)

It’s difficult to predict whether Giorgi will prove to be that opponent or not. A top-30 player in 2018, the season which saw her make her solitary Wimbledon quarterfinal so far, Giorgi always draws the eye because of the way that she hammers every ball that comes to her as hard as possible, going for a winner on everything. It’s earned her some big wins in the past, nine of them against top-10 players, but it’s also seen her lose plenty of matches which would have been categorised as ‘winnable’.

Giorgi is absolutely no easy out, however, despite her current, relatively low ranking of world no. 74, which owes much to an injury-decimated 2019 season in which she played only 11 matches during the first six months. Like some other European-based players, she chose to take advantage of the opportunity to get match practice in ahead of the US Open even if it was on clay, playing Palermo and Prague and going 4-2 with a run to the semifinals in Palermo which was only stopped by the eventual champion Fiona Ferro 5-7 in the third.

Giorgi edged past Alison van Uytvanck in a typical seesaw match in the first round of the US Open, beating the Belgian 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. There’s little question that from a broader perspective, Osaka is the superior player, and she should be the winner on Wednesday. But the opportunity is there for Giorgi – particularly if she’s returning well – to make life extremely difficult for Osaka.

Osaka vs Giorgi: Prediction

Naomi Osaka’s injured leg will be tested as she faces compatriot Misaki Doi in the first round of the US Open on Monday.

Osaka vs Doi is live from New York on Monday 31 August, 8.30pm local/1.30am BST

Naomi Osaka made headlines last week when she refused to play her semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open as scheduled in protest against racist police violence, and then impressed when she returned a day later to deliver an excellent performance and reach the final, boosting her perceived chances at the US Open.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

A left hamstring injury, however, saw Osaka pull out of the final against Victoria Azarenka on Saturday, and the fourth seed has had little time to recover. How will she fare against her left-handed compatriot Misaki Doi?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Doi live

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Osaka vs Doi: Head-to-head

Osaka and Doi have only played once before, four years ago at the Pan-Pacific Open in Tokyo. Osaka won 6-4, 6-4.

Osaka vs Doi: Preview

It’s been quite a week for Osaka as the world no. 10 returned from a six-month hiatus to make headlines around the world for taking a stand against racist police violence in the USA – a stand that was swiftly endorsed by the ATP, WTA and USTA, who ‘paused’ the Western & Southern Open for 24 hours in response, although Osaka’s original intention was to concede her semifinal clash against Elise Mertens.

As impressive as Osaka’s leadership off the court was, however, her performance on it was also noteworthy – and it saw her boosted to second favourite for the US Open title after the Japanese-Haitian player beat Karolina Muchova, Dayana Yastremska and two very in-form players, Anett Kontaveit and Elise Mertens, to reach her first WTA final of 2020. Both Kontaveit and Mertens had made clay-court finals in Palermo and Prague respectively, and presented very different challenges to Osaka: The way that she surged back from a set and a break down against Kontaveit, then held her nerve through a tight, gritty battle at the end of the match, consistently using smart shot selection to open up the court, was as impressive as the way she dominated the first set against Mertens with big serving then fended off a slew of break points with brave winners before closing out the win in a tie-break.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

Osaka was undoubtedly playing like a US Open contender, but she injured her leg in the closing stages of the match against Mertens, and it wasn’t entirely a surprise when she pulled out of Saturday’s final against Victoria Azarenka. The question now is to what extent Misaki Doi can test that leg in Monday’s match.

Misaki Doi is a dangerous left-hander (PA Images)

Doi is always most memorable to me as the player who held match point on Angelique Kerber in the first round of the Australian Open in 2016. Doi couldn’t convert and Kerber went on to win the match, then the title and have one of the best seasons on the WTA Tour in living memory. It was also Doi’s best season: She finished it ranked world no. 30 after making the round of 16 at Wimbledon, the quarterfinals in Rome and winning two titles.

It’s never been quite as good since for Doi, who plummeted out of the top 100 after a 15-24 2017 and slid as low as world no. 328 in 2018. She turned things around in 2019, winning the WTA 125k in Bastad on clay and reaching the final of the Hiroshima International, and is currently ranked world no. 78, having reached the final of the WTA Indian Wells 125k right before tennis shut down.

Doi is 0-17 vs top-10 players, and while Osaka’s 16-9 record vs left-handers doesn’t sound great, it’s important to bear in mind that four of those losses have been to Kerber. The unknowable is the state of Osaka’s leg, but if she can produce a good serving performance, she won’t need to run too much. Their previous match was a 6-4, 6-4 victory for Osaka: Something similar seems indicated on Monday.

Osaka vs Doi: Prediction

From Serena Williams to Coco Gauff, the US Open women’s draw is packed with intrigue but it’s tough to know who will shine at this unusual major.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin lead the challengers for the US Open women’s singles title.

US Open 2020: Preview

No fans, little freedom: It’s an unusual US Open for the players, but one that is taking place against the odds. There are plenty of absentees, including six of the WTA’s top 10 – defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty among them – leaving Karolina Pliskova, a former runner-up, leading the field.

But all eyes are on Serena Williams, once more going for that elusive 24th major title. If she can snap her four-match losing streak in Grand Slam finals, she’ll win an Open Era record seventh US Open crown, but the draw is paved with pitfalls.

US Open Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Karolina Pliskova (1) vs Petra Martic (8)
Pliskova is the only top-10 WTA player based outside of the USA to be playing the US Open, and she’s not been well rewarded. After opening against Anna Kalhenina, Pliskova could face Caroline Garcia – who is 3-3 against her – with a third-round clash looming against one of the most in-form players right now: Lexington champion Jennifer Brady.

Brady admittedly got one game from Pliskova in a previous meeting, but the American is vastly improved in 2020 and should be a formidable challenge for the Czech, whose only warm-up match was a defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

Angelique Kerber made a late decision to play the US Open (PA Images)

Another threat is Angelique Kerber, the 2016 US Open champion who decided more or less at the last minute to play. The counterpunching lefty will have to play herself into form, with Ajla Tomljanovic a tricky opening opponent and Alison Riske potentially in the fourth round, but she loves this tournament. Eighth seed Petra Martic, at the bottom of this section, has a smoother route, potentially meeting former quarterfinalist Kristina Mladenovic in the third round and 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in the last 16. Watch out for Aliaksandra Sasnovich, if the courts are indeed playing fast.

Predicted semifinalist: Kerber (12/1 @ Paddy Power to win her quarter)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Naomi Osaka (4) vs Petra Kvitova (6)
Osaka’s run to the Western & Southern Open final has seen her move up to second favourite with the bookies for the title, and it’s not surprising; the 2018 US Open champion is a world-beater when she’s on song.

The way that Osaka focused in her delayed semifinal to beat Elise Mertens was very impressive, although the Japanese-Haitian player showed signs of physical fatigue at the end, which may cast doubt over her contender credentials.

Naomi Osaka is looking for her second US Open title (PA Images)

So does her draw. Osaka could face Coco Gauff, who beat her at the Australian Open, or former US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova in the third round – that’s after talented compatriot Misaki Doi and hard-hitting Camila Giorgi. The in-form Anett Kontaveit, who came close to getting her first win vs Osaka at the Western & Southern Open, is likely to await in the last 16.

The bottom half of this quarter is also pretty unpredictable. Ninth seed Elena Rybakina was having a dazzling breakthrough season before the shutdown – can she recapture that form? She could face Dayana Yastremska in the third round, while Petra Kvitova – never particularly strong at the US Open – could have to contend with Marie Bouzkova, who beat her at the Western & Southern Open, or in-form Jessica Pegula in the third round. I like Kontaveit’s chances: She’s in superb form, totally disciplined and incredibly fit right now.

Predicted semifinalist: Kontaveit (7/1 @ BetVictor to win his quarter)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Madison Keys (7) vs Serena Williams (3)
All eyes will be on Serena Williams after she played well in spurts in the warm up – notably against sister Venus in a three-set thriller in Lexington – but struggled physically and mentally in defeats to Shelby Rogers and Maria Sakkari.

Never forget that Williams has reached the final at four of the eight majors she’s played since returning from maternity leave, including at both the US Opens. The six-time champion hasn’t lost before the semifinals at the US Open since 2007. That’s an incredible record.

Williams doesn’t have a bad draw through the early rounds – Kristie Ahn in the first round, maybe Monica Puig in the second, Sloane Stephens in the third – and at a major she has the huge advantage of a rest day between matches which should avoid the physical struggles of Lexington and ‘Cincinnati’. Williams could face a rematch with Sakkari in the last 16, but a bigger threat might be Amanda Anisimova, the teenager who will be desperate to do better than the 1-6, 1-6 scoreline she achieved against Williams in Auckland in January.

Madison Keys is a former US Open finalist (PA Images)

Madison Keys is a former US Open finalist but the big-serving American has some tricky players in her way, starting with Lexington runner-up Jil Teichmann – just a fantastically in-form player over the past 18 months – in the second round; Zhang Shuai in the third; and Garbine Muguruza, potentially, in the fourth. Muguruza would have been hotly tipped here, after she shook off a lengthy slump to make the US Open final in January, but she had injury concerns coming in; nevertheless she’s got the draw to play herself into form, albeit possibly not Serena-beating form.

Predicted semifinalist: Williams (11/4 @ 888Sport to win her quarter)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Aryna Sabalenka (5) vs Sofia Kenin (2)
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin lost to Alize Cornet at the Western & Southern Open, which is less than perfect preparation, and opens against former semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer with a former runner-up, Vera Zvonareva, or fast-rising Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez in the second round. In-form Ons Jabeur, the trailblazing Tunisian who made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, could be a real threat in the third round, and perennial Grand Slam dark horse Kaia Kanepi – a six-time major quarterfinalist – also lurks in this section, more than capable of blowing Kenin off the court.

Elise Mertens has been on excellent form at the Western & Southern Open (PA Images)

It only gets more packed with contenders in the fourth round: Ekaterina Alexandrova, a player rising quietly but unstoppably, faces three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters in the first round. Clijsters has unretired before to win the US Open – albeit not after quite such a long break – but has an abdominal injury which has proved difficult to shift, with Elise Mertens, who played superbly at the Western & Southern Open, also in this section.

As if that wasn’t enough – Aryna Sabalenka could face an all-Belarusian battle with the suddenly-on-form Victoria Azarenka in the second round, with Venus Williams and Johanna Konta possibly headed for a third-round duel. Azarenka, Konta, Mertens and Jabeur have all played fantastic tennis in New York this past week; Mertens could be the one to carry it through to a US Open semifinal run.

Semifinalist: Mertens (5/1 @ William Hill to win her quarter)

US Open 2020: Prediction

Semifinals: Kontaveit d. Kerber
Serena d. Mertens

Final: Serena d. Kontaveit

The resurgent Victoria Azarenka aims to capture the second Western & Southern Open title nobody expected as she takes on Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

Osaka vs Azarenka is live from New York on Saturday 29 August, 11am local/4pm BST

The 2018 US Open champion Osaka was always among the favourites to win the Cincinnati-New York Open, even with nobody quite sure what to expect as the bulk of the top players took to the court for the first time following a six-month absence. But nobody expected play to be unprecedently paused at Osaka’s instigation on Thursday – nor the Japanese-Haitian player to be so focused when she returned to play her delayed semifinal against Elise Mertens.

WTA Cincinnati-New York Open: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka, a long way off the glory days that saw her beat Serena Williams in the 2013 Cincinnati final, came out of nowhere to put together a resurgent run and give herself a shot at a win which would be massive at this point in her career – can she get it?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Azarenka live

Western & Southern Open matches including Naomi Osaka vs Victoria Azarenka are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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3. Go to tennis > WTA New York > Osaka vs Azarenka

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Osaka vs Azarenka: Head-to-head

Osaka leads the head-to-head with Azarenka 2-1. Both Osaka’s wins came on clay, while Azarenka won their only hard-court clash, but that match was all the way back in 2016 at the Australian Open.

Victoria Azarenka broke Johanna Konta’s serve five times in the semifinals (PA Images)

Osaka vs Azarenka: Preview

Given how much uncertainty was in the air about how this tournament, relocated from Cincinnati to New York to be played behind closed doors in the midst of a global pandemic, might play out, the conclusion promises to be something of a dream final as Grand Slam champions and former world no. 1s face off.

Osaka has played some great tennis this week after a scrappy start to her first tournament since a miserable Fed Cup defeat to Sara Sorribes Tormo back in February followed the abrupt end to her Australian Open title defense. Against the extremely in-form Anett Kontaveit, Osaka trailed by a set and a break before reeling off a run of games in unplayable form, then dug out a narrow victory.

Then came the events of Thursday, which saw Osaka declare that she would not play her semifinal against Mertens as scheduled. The tournament swiftly responded by pausing all play for the day, and the response was confusion: Had Osaka withdrawn? The player clarified: She had been willing to concede the match to her opponent, but when tournament authorities paused play, she yielded to persuasion to go on competing.

With Osaka’s stand making headlines around the world and igniting predictable debate, it seemed too much to expect that she would be able to focus and produce her best tennis – but that’s just what she did on Friday. Mertens had been in superb form, playing such smart tennis all week to reach the semifinals, and after being outplayed in the first set, she produced it again in the second. The two players exchanged breaks twice before the ninth game found them level at 4-4, with Mertens throwing everything at Osaka in an attempt to break. In a ten-deuce game, Osaka fended off eight break points – mainly by hitting clean winners – to hold for 5-4. Mertens retaliated with a nerveless match-point save at 5-6, then led by a mini-break in the tie-break, two points from pushing the match to a decider. But it was Osaka who won the last three points of the match to get the win 6-2, 7-6(5).

As much as the world no. 10 is an explosive hitter, it was her ability to generate angles and open up the court, especially on the short angle with her backhand, which made the difference today. But one thing that did concern was how tired Osaka appeared to be at the end of the match, perhaps struggling with her legs or back.

Azarenka on the other hand ended her semifinal match looking fresher than when she started. Trounced by Venus Williams in Lexington two weeks ago, Azarenka nevertheless said that she felt she’d found something in the match that had been missing, something mislaid by the former world no. 1 during her lengthy battles with injury and the ugly custody battle that has kept her off tour for huge lengths of time. After wins over Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur, Azarenka dropped her first set of the week against Johanna Konta in the semifinals, but as the match wore on, the Azarenka return only got better and she stayed glued to the baseline in vintage Vika style, smothering Konta with depth to run out a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victor.

Based purely on perception, Azarenka looks to me like she has the physical advantage on Saturday. She might need it, because her shotmaking cannot match Osaka for explosiveness or sheer power. But her returning can keep Osaka under constant pressure on serve and break that weapon down like Azarenka did Konta’s, she’ll track everything down and if Osaka is anything less than totally fighting fit and match-ready, Azarenka will expose it.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Prediction

Can Naomi Osaka overcome another in-form opponent in the shape of Elise Mertens and reach the final of the Western & Southern Open?

Osaka vs Mertens is live from New York on Friday 28 August, 11am local/4pm BST

World no. 10 Osaka is looking to reach her first WTA final of 2020 – the perfect way to warm up for the forthcoming US Open, played on the same grounds as the relocated Cincinnati event, where Osaka will be bidding for her second title.

WTA Cincinnati-New York Open: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Osaka announced on Wednesday that she would not play the semifinal against Mertens in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, writing: ‘[I]f I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.’

The USTA, ATP and WTA then issued a joint statement announcing that the tournament would be ‘paused’ on Thursday and resume on Friday 28 August as tennis took a ‘stance against racial inequality’.

On Thursday, Osaka’s management released a statement confirming that she would play against Mertens on Friday at the request of the WTA, despite having been fully prepared to concede the match to the Belgian.

 

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Osaka vs Mertens live

Western & Southern Open matches including Naomi Osaka vs Elise Mertens are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

1. Click here to go to bet365
2. Sign in or open an account and deposit £5 or more
3. Go to tennis > WTA New York > Osaka vs Mertens

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Osaka vs Mertens: Head-to-head

The head-to-head between Osaka and Mertens is 1-1. Mertens won in three sets in Wuhan in 2017, while Osaka won in the city of her birth last September, 6-4, 6-1.

Elise Mertens has lost her last 14 sets vs top-10 players (PA Images)

Osaka vs Mertens: Preview

The only top-10 player left in the Western & Southern Open draw, Naomi Osaka looked very much like she might be Wednesday’s first seeded casualty on the women’s side as she trailed the in-form Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 0-2. Kontaveit had reached the final of the Palermo Open on clay in the first week of the restarted WTA Tour and had not dropped a set on her way to the quarterfinals despite facing some tough opponents.

But Kontaveit also had an 0-3 record vs Osaka and as the match went on, it became clear why that was. Both women are very powerful baseliners with big serves, but Osaka is both more explosive and more creative, finding angles which elude the more predictable Kontaveit. While both women’s level would rise and fall, Osaka’s top level in the match was higher than Kontaveit’s – and it showed as she reeled off six straight games to take the second set before racing to a 3-0 lead. Kontaveit got back on serve and the battle was intense down the stretch, but Osaka managed to avoid being taken to a third-set tie-break when she broke at the death to win 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and improve to 4-0 vs Kontaveit.

Like Kontaveit, Mertens prepared for the two-tournament US Open swing by reaching the final of a clay-court International, finishing runner-up to Simona Halep in Prague. The benefit of the added matches after such a lengthy absence from competition for all players has been clear at the Western & Southern Open, where she began by dropping just two games against Rebecca Peterson. The world no. 22 dropped a tie-break set against Kristina Mladenovic, but has otherwise remained blemish-free in wins over Veronika Kudermetova, who had knocked out top seed Karolina Pliskova, and finally qualifier Jessica Pegula. Mertens’s 6-1, 6-3 victory over in-form Pegula, who had ousted Lexington champion Jennifer Brady and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka, saw the Belgian matching Pegula’s aggression but playing much more smartly, using drop shots, lobs and volleys – all executed very well – in addition to powering off the baseline. Mertens also defended very well, defying Pegula to hit through her and leading the American to commit a lot of errors.

Will Osaka do the same? It depends on what kind of day she’s having. If Osaka is serving well, she will be able to get on the front foot in rallies and then use her shotmaking, especially on the forehand, to open up the court, overwhelming Mertens’s defense. If she’s not, or if the balance of winners to unforced errors is tilted too far towards the latter, then Mertens stands a real chance of snapping her seven-match losing streak against top-10 players.

Osaka vs Mertens: Prediction