Naomi Osaka will look to further establish her credentials as a tournament favourite when she faces Anett Kontaveit in the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday. The top half of the draw looks hers for the taking, especially with Karolina Pliskova an early exit in the tournament.
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Kontaveit is in the last 16 of a slam for the second time this year, following her Australian Open quarter final. She broke twice in both sets of her 6-3 6-2 win against Magda Linette. The Estonian plays a tricky style that makes things difficult for many aggressive players but a top 10 breakthrough still looks a while away.
Up 6-3 2-1 and holding break points, Osaka may have been expected to get off court fairly quickly against Marta Kostyuk. However, a failure to take them eventually saw her brought into a deciding set fight with the young Ukrainian. The turning point came at 2-2 0-40, when Osaka saved five break points on her way to holding. It was the first of four games in a row won to close out the match and escape a tricky tussle. “I was very displeased with how I was performing towards the end of the second set,” Osaka said on the match. “The thing that made me most displeased was probably the decisions that I was making and the fact that I started becoming way too passive and hoping that she would make an unforced error.
Osaka is 4-0 against Kontaveit so far and will be fairly confident of repeating the 4-6 6-2 7-5 Western & Southern Open win of last week. In that one, it was a slow start from the fourth seed who eventually overwhelmed and overpowered her opponent. Osaka is in confident form since returning to the tour and will look to extend her record to 8-0 since the tour restarted.
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in three sets