Having faced off against Cori Gauff at their last two slams, Naomi Osaka may well have been eyeing a potential third round matchup with the highly talented 16 year-old. A round one exit put paid to that but Osaka will still face a highly touted youngster for a spot in the fourth round. Marta Kostyuk is the sole Ukrainian representative left in the draw at this stage with Dayana Yastremska out and Elina Svitolina not competing.
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Kostyuk burst onto the scene in 2018, making the third round in Melbourne as a 15 year-old. She had struggled to live up to the expectations set by that run and has yet to make the top 100 – although she still is just 18 years old. She outclassed Darya Kasatkina in round one and followed that up with an impressive win against Anastasija Sevastova in round two.
Any doubts about Naomi Osaka’s fitness after her weekend withdrawal will have been cast aside after a dominant performance against Naomi Osaka on Wednesday. She kept things clean in the 6-1 6-2 victory, hitting 14 winners to just 11 unforced errors. “I haven’t played her in a while, but I know that she goes for things. For me it’s really helpful mentally just because I know she’s capable of finishing points. It gives me motive to play better, so she’s not able to hit winners.” she said on the match. “I never want to depend on what the other person’s going to do. Even if I play a power player, my goal is to be the dictator. I think that I was able to do that quite well. I think when she was hitting really hard, I was able to neutralize. When I had the chance, I went for the ball that I wanted.”
Kostyuk may well be showing signs of the play seen when she first burst onto the scene but Osaka will undoubtedly be a class above in this one. The 2018 champion seems in a great place mentally and a confident Osaka should fancy her chances of beating anyone in this tournament.
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in straight sets