Naomi Osaka is in a small club of players over the last sixteen years to have won majors in three consecutive years. Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin have also completed this feat, but now the Japanese number one is aiming for a fourth year and back to back titles from US Open to Australian Open once again.
The third seed has had a tougher draw than most so far up against some very experienced players but orchestrated her way through to the fourth round in good form.
6-1 6-2 vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
6-2 6-3 vs Caroline Garcia
6-3 6-2 vs Ons Jabeur
Going into the fourth round was a complete unknown for the former number one up against another former world number one for the very first time. Naomi Osaka technically and excluding walkovers she has conceded (two) is on an 18 match win streak since tennis returned at Cincinnati last August.
The three time major champion has not found it a problem during this time going down a set in matches having recovered four previous times including in the US Open final against Victoria Azarenka.
Muguruza sneaked the set 6-4 against the 2019 Australian Open champion but there isn’t a panic from the 23 year old, she resets soo well and just goes again and levelled it up at a set a piece with a little over an hour tennis being played.
One of the key battles I picked up in the preview was that Muguruza will look for that opportunity to finish at the net, she knows defensively running from side to side isn’t her strength and has to take that option out of her opponents hands. I thought she did it well throughout the match, including saving an early break point after some good work by Naomi and suddenly broke and led 5-3.
The Spaniard did see two match points but couldn’t convert, the forehand of Naomi really started to move her about and drag Muguruza into the tramlines. From 3-5 to leading 6-5 the game of Osaka went from level to level and the backhand up the line set up the point brilliantly for her to finish at the net.
From multiple match to facing multiple match points, down 0-40 having led 5-3 a forehand long sealed another big win for Naomi Osaka and left Muguruza leaving thinking ‘what could have been?’ It will be a harsh result for her to take but still exceptional level of competing from Osaka who hasn’t lost a match she has played in 19 now.