Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs.  Bianca Andreescu (CAN)
I eagerly awaited this match between Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka; and I watched with bated breath as the match developed and Osaka fell behind 1-5. Whether or not they consciously admitted, each player had something to prove as this was a match between a former number one and the current hottest player on tour. At twenty-one years old, Osaka is already the owner of two major titles; however, Andreescu is not that far behind because at nineteen years old, she already owns the US Open title and two other significant WTA singles titles.
Andreescu’s Rapid Rise
Andreescu turned professional in 2017 and two years later she is a top ten ranked player (career high of #5). I am not sure what year Osaka declared her professional status, but it took her more than two years to claim her first major title and reach the top ten. Yet, Osaka can say she has been ranked number one and therefore, there was a lot at stake here for the Japanese player, who has had a rather rocky 2019 season after starting the year off by winning the Australian Open title.
Andreescu’s Winning Record
Andreescu has not lost to any of the top ranked players she has played this season and today she wanted to keep that record intact. Her last match lost was in March by retirement after Anett Kontaveit had a 6-1, 2-0 lead; thus, she was on a seventeen-match winning streak coming into this match. And she started off playing with the confidence that everyone who has watched her play has come to expect.
Osaka Fights Back
Osaka in contrast came out reserved and a bit tentative. Her tension showed early as she lost her serve from a 40-0 position in her first service game giving the Canadian the early break lead. Yet, Osaka quietly fought back and broke the Canadian twice when she served for the first set. But I always feel it is difficult to sustain the high intensity needed to get back on serve and Osaka proved that she was just as vulnerable as the next player when she lost her serve after working so hard to get the match back on even terms (5-5).
Osaka Not Deterred By Losing 1st Set
Although the advantage of versatility in the shot making department goes to Andreescu, Osaka proved to many today that she can adjust her game and that she is willing to fight when the odds are stacked against her. What Osaka showed today was important because many had begun to doubt her commitment. It was a battle worthy of these two young talented players, and I expect they will have many more battles in the future if they both continue to play at the top of their games and stay healthy. This round one however went to Osaka 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (main image-Getty Images AsiaPac: Naomi Osaka)