One of two former women’s champions playing on Day 1 at the US Open, Naomi Osaka will look to continue her good run of form in New York and establish herself as one of the main candidates for the title. She will open against a fellow Japanese player in Misaki Doi with the winner going on to play Alison Van Uytvanck or Camila Giorgi. Osaka is in the top two of bookmaker’s favourites for the tournament, alongside Serena Williams.
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Doi has spent much of the last three years inside the WTA Top 100 but has been unable to reach the highs that saw her inside the top 30 in late 2016. A final in her native Hiroshima saw her move back into the top 100 but it has been hard to push on from there with a mix of qualifying and ITFs holding her back.
Osaka may have been in the headlines recently for her activism against racial injustice and the suspension of the Western & Southern Open caused by her initial withdrawal from the tournament. As it is, she remained in the tournament and is now a win away from a sixth career title. That her performances haven’t been hindered by outside causes has to be a testament to the ability and strength of the 2018 champion.
“Of course I feel extra pressure now that there are more eyes watching me, I would just say there’s a lot of pressure I put on myself, and of course I feel like now there is another reason for me to want to win, but I feel like I have to reel back all those emotions and just focus on what I train for.” Osaka said after her semi final win against Elise Mertens. There’s no doubt the same pressure and focus remains on her coming into the US Open but she should live up to the billing and could be lifting a trophy in 2 weeks once again.
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in straight sets