Friday, January 25, 2019

2019 AUS OPEN: Women's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Naomi Osaka (JPN) [4] vs. Petra Kvitova (CZE) [8]
This is my prediction post for the 2019 Australian Open women's final. Last year I incorrectly predicted that Simona Halep would beat Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 Aussie Open women's final.  This year I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals, 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals2 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals. I will also predict the winner of the 2019 Aussie Open men's final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.


Naomi Osaka (JPN) [4] d. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [7] 6-2 4-6 6-4. This was actually quite a good match but it was overshadowed by the dramatics of the round before, when Pliskova completed one of the all-time historic comebacks, amazingly against Serena Williams. She came back from 1-5 30-40 down in the final set and won the last 6 games of the set after Serena roller her ankle and failed to win another point on serve, despite having four match points. So, one would have thought that Pliskova would realize that she's playing with "house money" and come out blasting against Osaka but that is not what happened. It's clear now that Osaka has the game and mentality to get to the top of the women's game and she has demonstrated that repeatedly in the last 6 months.

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [8] d. Danielle Collins (USA) 7-6(2) 6-0. Although Pliskova's upset of Serena was historic, in some sense Collins 6-0 6-2 win over 3-time major champion Angie Kerber in the fourth round is even more astounding. The 25-year-old American had never won a grand slam match before and she ended up winning 5 matches in a row in Melbourne. For one set she held Kvitova to a tiebreak set, the first player in the tournament to stay even with the 2-time major champion for so long this year. Collins has a feisty personality, enjoying the competition and the fight. She is an excellent counterpuncher and handles pace quite well. Hopefully this breakthrough will give her the confidence to make a bigger splash on the women's tour.


Last year's final featured two players in Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki who had not won a grand slam, who were also competing for the #1 ranking in the world (although they had both held it previously). This year, the final features two players in Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova who have both won a major but who have not reached World #1. If Osaka wins she will become World #1 at age 20, the youngest since Wozniacki did it in 2011. If Kvitova wins, she will become the oldest player to reach #1 for the first time. The two are taking undefeated grand slam final records in to this match, with Osaka 1-0 (2018 US Open, d. S. Williams) and Kvitova 2-0 (2014 Wimbledon d. Bouchard; 2011 Wimbledon d. Sharapova) so someone will experience their fist major final loss today. Kvitova has an amazing 26-7 record in finals and has won her last 8 on the tour. She is contending for the #1 spot because of her all-round stellar play on the tour, including wining the Sydney warm-up tournament over Ash Barty, while Osaka is going for her second consecutive major title.  Amazingly, the two have never played on tour before, so this is their very first meeting. That will almost certainly result in a very nervous start for both players. I would be shocked if P3tra doesn't live up to her name and the match end in straight sets. (Neither player has lost a set in a major final before either.) Their games are very similar, they play big babe, first strike tennis. Kvitova has the fact that she's a lefty in her favor, but Osaka has the more consistent serve. Osaka is possibly the better athlete, but Kvitova's amazing record in finals is very convincing to me.
 MadProfessah's pick: Kvitova.

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