Both have been quietly progressing through the draw while the drama has been elsewhere. Naomi Osaka has now equalled her best result (where she reached the same stage last year), and she came into this year’s tournament as a wildcard. She had to come from a set down in her opening match – her first since the restart.
Anett Kontaveit has had a great start to 2020, well at least until lockdown, and is in her fourth quarter-final of the season and is actually yet to drop a set this tournament.
However, she has only ever taken one set off Osaka in the past but has the variety in her strokes to force opponents into errors, and has great movement around the baseline.
Her key will be to try and dig into Osaka’s aggressive baseline game, and more importantly put in some strong return games to try and get a read on the consistent Osaka serve.
It has been three years since they last met, but Roberto Bautista Agut has the upper hand coming into this encounter. What always stands out about the Spaniard is his consistency, that has taken him up the rankings.
It may stand him in good stead as he faces up to defending champion Daniil Medvedev, who can rally until the cows come home, with a well disguised forehand but he can be exploited when it comes to movement.
Medvedev has looked good, but Bautista Agut was tested against Karen Khachanov, and he could find himself going the distance again today.
Former champion Victoria Azarenka must feel that she has finally started her season, having won her first matches in 2020. It is a tricky match-up for her though against Ons Jabeur, who has been growing in confidence and self-belief, and is beginning to reap the rewards now.
Jabeur will look to change up the rhythm and stop Azarenka getting into her flow of relentless groundstrokes that have been a trademark of the Belarusian’s game.
Jabeur’s style is to mix things up and throw in slices, volleys and charges to the net, but she would do well to not underestimate Azarenka in that regard – she has a decent doubles record and is more than handy at the net if she is drawn forward.
Prediction: Jabeur in three sets.
Play continues at the Western & Southern Open at 11am (4pm BST).
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