Katie Boulter looked to have no sign of jitters as she starts to work her way back up the rankings. Entering this tournament on her protected ranking, she showed she was playing well above her ranking of World No. 371 as she came from a set down to up-end Coco Gauff.
Naomi Osaka, extended her tour winning streak to 12 matches after easing past Alizé Cornet, in her first competitive match since winning the US Open in September.
As reported by WTATennis.com, she said: “Actually I was nervous the entire match. There were moments where it was less and there were moments where it was more, but I felt like I was really, really nervous just going, like walking onto the court.
“Even until the very last point, I think I was just thinking — I don’t know, the first match you come back and especially in a Grand Slam environment, it’s definitely very hard.”
Boulter has been hitting very cleanly this week, and her aggressive game has paid real dividends in both her matches, against far more experienced players. Most importantly she looks fit and healthy with no sign of the stress fracture to her back which side-lined her for most of 2019.
She has been hitting the mark with an effective serve, and when her forehand is working well, it has tied the rest of her game together – and certainly her temperament has stood her in good stead this week.
It will indeed be a battle of the aggressive baseliners, and it will be a solid test for Boulter. Osaka’s power on her serve and forehand is a potent combination and over the years she has improved her mental approach, with more patience, and she may need that as Boulter will have to throw everything at her.
While Boulter was able to overpower both Anna Kalinskaya and benefited from Gauff’s serving deterioration in the decider, she cannot hope that Osaka’s serve might still be a bit rusty – it was not that impressive in the Adelaide exhibition, but back at a tour level, Osaka will have a little too much of everything for the Brit.
Prediction: Osaka in two sets.
Boulter and Osaka are scheduled first on Margaret Court Arena at 11am (Midnight GMT).
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