The Australian Open final on the women side will take place 26th of January after 9:30 CET. The match couldn’t have been more interesting as, let’s say, we do have the most in-form two girls facing each other on Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open trophy. The first contender is Japanese Naomi Osaka, ranked no. 4 in the world, and the holder of the US Open trophy (2018). She will face Czech Petra Kvitova, ranked no. 6.
Amazing enough is that they both play for the perfect Slam Final record, but also for the world no. 1 ranking, a ranking that neither of them have been.
Naomi is a 21 years old girl from Japan, that stands at 1.80m tall, and which uses the right-handed forehand combined with a double-handed backhand. She is trained by Sascha Bajin since 2018 and they have won two titles together, the Indian Wells Masters and the US Open Slam.
Osaka is, basically, a delight to watch, as she is an aggressive baseline player. She has huge raw power in her shots, excelling in the forehand and service departments. Her serves can go over 200 km/h which is pretty top-level on the WTA tour. Her playing style is based on her power, which makes her hit a lot of winners, while her past 2 years has seen her improve her patience on the court and building up points to the level of hitting a winner. The best improvement, by far, in my opinion, is in her mental strength, as she also admitted happily: “Since I was working with [Bajin] — and I tend to be a bit negative on myself — I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit more optimistic … I fight myself a lot, so he’s sort of been, like, the peacemaker.”
Petra is a Czech professional tennis player aged 28. She is playing at the top level of WTA for 10 years now and has won in her past 2 Slam titles (both in Wimbledon, 2011 and 2014). Besides of those two important titles she also has won 24 other titles (first came in 2009 in Hobart, and last this year in Sydney) which shows a great constancy and quality over 10 years. Petra stands at 1.82m tall and uses the left-handed forehand combined with the double-handed backhand. Her current coach is Jiri Vanek, which trains her since 2016. Along with him, she won Wuhan and WTA Elite Trophy in 2016, Birmingham in 2017, Birmingham, Madrid, Prague, Doha and St. Petersburg in 2018, and Sydney this year.
Kvitova’s playing style is, sort-of, similar to Osaka’s as she is using her power to hit through her opponents. Her biggest weapons are her lefty serve and her huge forehand. The fact that she also possesses a very good backhand has made her one of the greatest players of the past 10 years. However, due to her high-risk game and aggressive style of play, she is known to produce a high number of unforced errors in matches. Movement is another weakness in her game though it has shown significant improvement over the last couple of years as she is now able to run down more balls than before.
Past Slam results
Neither of these two players has excelled so far in the Australian Open tournament. Osaka played only 3 times prior to this final, and she never got past the Round 4 (2018 was the best results, losing to Halep in the Round 4). Petra, on the other hand, has played the Aussie Open since 2008 and her best result was the semifinal lost to Sharapova in 2012. Since that year she never got past the 3rd round, losing to outsiders each time: Robson in 2013, Kumkhum in 2014, Keys in 2015, Gavrilova in 2016, and Petkovic in 2018. She missed the 2017 Aussie Open because of that well-known injury she had (was stabbed by a robber in her hand).
Kvitova has an impressive record in Slam matches with 99 wins and 41 losses, which makes her winning accuracy a top level one, at 71%. Osaka, on the other hand, has a shorter professional career and has only 35 wins and 12 losses, but her winning accuracy is even better, at 74%. Osaka has won 17 matches in Slams and lost only two, in the past 52 weeks, which make her winning accuracy at 89%! She also has won now 13 consecutive Slam matches (as she won US Open 2018).
Both of them have a perfect record in the Slams final they played, as Osaka defeated Serena Williams in the only Slam final played, and Kvitova won both Wimbledon finals played (defeated Bouchard in 2014, and Sharapova in 2011).
Australian Open 2019
Osaka had, arguably, the harder draw to face, as he defeated back-to-back-to-back top 12 players, in Sevastova, Svitolina, and Pliskova. Kvitova has faced only one top-15 player to get to the final, Ash Barty.
The stats during AO2019 show that Kvitova has performed on a stellar level, having a combined hold-break % of 141.18% during her first 6 matches. She also had 3 matches where she didn’t lose the serve, which is rather unseen on the WTA tour. Her best performance, stats-wise was against Anisimova, where she had a 162.50% combined hold-break %. Amazing ist hat she also has lost her serve only 4 times in 6 matches, and a maximum of 2 times during a match (against Rybarikova in the first round). Kvitova managed to win all her matches in straight sets and to stay on the court a total of 7h and 13m.
Osaka’s stats aren’t that „stellar“ as Kvitova’s, but as I pointed out she has tougher opposition and that’s why she couldn’t have had such numbers. She has a 122.01% hold-break total, which is top level, and considering she faced two top-10 players, and Sevastova (which is also top-10 material) is really amazing. Osaka won 3 matches in straight sets and 3 matches in 3-setters and stayed on the court a total of 9h and 1m.
The time difference spent on the court isn’t that much, so we can assume that none of the two players will have problems regarding fitness and stamina.
The weather at Melbourne Park is perfect for tennis, at around 21°C, and cloudy sky. The Humidity will be at around 75% and the wind is at around 10 km/h. We can clearly say that the fact that the roof is open is good for this match, while in the possibility of higher temperatures, Osaka will be favored by them, as she loves to play in the heat.
Match-up and possible scenarios
As we see, both of the players had held serve in amazing numbers, Osaka with 81.43% and Kvitova with 92.16%, but also broke serve in stellar fashion. We can expect them to fight off the baseline, as both of them are aggressive baseliners, and hence see a lot of service holds with both protecting their huge serves with attacking tennis. Winners will be double-digits in each set, but I expect them to force the attacks a bit, so there will be a lot of unforced errors, probably. The fact that Osaka possesses an amazing backhand will make her immune to the lefty cross forehand, while the backhand-down-the-line of her, will do a lot of damage for sure (as we saw in all matches played by her, especially the one against Pliskova).
I do expect a long match, and a very intense one too. I doubt that any of these two can win this in an easy fashion, the only possibility this to happen is one of the two has an „off-day“, which is also just improbable seeing their past results in finals, and their past results here at Australian Open.
I will have three bets on this match, all of them will be small staked, anyway. These plays have considered the recent past results, but also the yearly stats on both players, where Osaka has been better overall. The weather and the roof have been considered too, and as long as the roof will be open, I really think that Osaka should be favorite in this match-up.
Osaka to win @ 2.16 (5 units) with Matchbook (via SportMarket)
Over 2.5 Sets @ 2.50 (2 units) with bet365
Over 21.5 Games @ 1.81 (3 units) with Pinnacle (via SportMarket)