Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka will meet in the 2020 US Open final on Saturday night in a contest that has the potential to become a classic.
There has been a strange feel to this year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows given it is being played without fans, while many top players opted not to compete due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
However, that should take nothing away from the two finalists, who have more than earned their places in the final, with fourth seed Osaka going for her second victory in New York, while two-time former finalist Azarenka will be hoping its third time lucky in the Big Apple.
Osaka to Win Tight Encounter
Both players will head into the showpiece having won 10 matches on the spin and they had been due to meet in the final of the Western & Southern Open just prior to the US Open getting underway, but a slight hamstring problem meant Osaka withdrew, handing Azarenka the title.
Osaka did not want to risk aggravating the injury on the eve of the US Open and that has seemingly proved a wise decision, as she has come through the tournament unscathed despite having her leg heavily strapped.
The Japanese fourth seed has been taken to three sets in three of her six matches in New York, including her semi-final victory over Jennifer Brady, while Azarenka was also taken the distance in the last four before eventually seeing off 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams.
It could be a similarly tight affair during Saturday’s final, particularly as the duo’s last meeting also went the distance at the 2019 French Open.
Osaka emerged on top on that occasion and the 22-year-old is priced at
9/4 to win in three sets once again in New York.
Fast Start Could be Key for Osaka
As previously mentioned, Osaka has been taken the distance three times in New York this year, as she overcame scares in two of her opening three matches against compatriot Misaki Doi and Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, as well as Brady in semi-finals.
One thing that those victories have in common is that Osaka always won the first set and she could well do the same against Azarenka, who lost the opener before overcoming Williams in the last four, and against Karolina Muchova earlier in the tournament.
Osaka has also won the opening set in each of her two previous Grand Slam success and she is available at
4/7 to get off to a flyer on Saturday, while the world number 10 is priced at
5/6 to win the first set and the match.
Plenty of Action to Come at Flushing Meadows
The match is not only likely to go to the distance, but each set could also be pretty tight, with Osaka having been involved in three tie breaks at Flushing Meadows this year, winning two of those, including against Brady in the last four.
Azarenka hasn’t been involved in any tie-breaks at this year’s tournament, but that doesn’t mean her matches haven’t been tight, with her victories over Williams and Muchova totalling a combined 54 games.
Backing over 22.5 games in the final at
21/20 could therefore prove shrewd, particularly as the last meeting between Osaka and Azarenka saw a total of 31 games played.
*All odds correct at time of writing