With the field now down to 12 after the first set of women’s fourth round matches, the rest will be decided on Monday with the Naomi Osaka-Belinda Bencic matchup looking to be the highlight. A fully fit Bencic is dangerous to the best on tour as highlighted by her countless top 10 scalps in title wins.
Bencic will be well refreshed ahead of this match having been the beneficiary of Anett Kontaveit’s withdrawal from the tournament. Injuries have stunted Bencic’s progress but it was this tournament that she first announced herself at 5 years ago, making the quarter finals as a 17 year old.
The step up in class proved too much for Cori Gauff, who was overwhelmed in an uncompetitive matchup by Osaka. The defending champion broke in her first return game, setting the tone for the rest of the 6-3 6-0 victory. She broke in all but one return game with only a few shaky service games making the first set scoreline look nicer for the 15 year old. The pressure doesn’t look to to be getting to Osaka yet but that will be ramped up now. “I’m just going with the flow at this rate. I’ve never defended a Grand Slam before. We out here, you know. We’re just having fun.” she said.
“Playing [Bencic] is always super challenging, I’m unsure if I’ve ever won a match. I know that I lost the two times we played earlier this year. For me, I just expect a fight. She doesn’t really ever give up. She kind of fights for every point. I know that’s going to be a really difficult match for me.” Osaka said. The first of those two losses came at Indian Wells, where Bencic took it to the defending champion in a 6-3 6-1 win. Osaka will be hoping it is third time lucky but she is going to have to improve on her recent performances otherwise another error prone loss is on the cards.
Prediction – Belinda Bencic in three sets