Naomi Osaka’s injured leg will be tested as she faces compatriot Misaki Doi in the first round of the US…
Naomi Osaka’s injured leg will be tested as she faces compatriot Misaki Doi in the first round of the US Open on Monday.
Naomi Osaka vs Misaki Doi | US Open women's singles R1 | 1/9/2020 2am BSTOver 19.5 games 5/4 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.