US Open Tennis 2020 Women's Final: Naomi Osaka vs. Victoria Azarenka Preview

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2020

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, serves to Jennifer Brady, of the United States, during a semifinal match of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka came into the 2020 U.S. Open in some of the best form in the field. 

The two players followed up on their success at the tune-up to the second Grand Slam of the year with runs to the women's singles final. 

Azarenka enters Saturday afternoon with the longer winning streak of the two since she defeated Osaka via a walkover at the Western & Southern Open. 

Osaka has won 10 of her last 11 matches, and she has not dropped a match in which she stepped on the court since the shutdown started. 

Both players own a pair of Grand Slam titles, but Azarenka holds the edge in experience since she has been in four Grand Slam finals compared to two for Osaka.

         

U.S. Open Women's Final Information

Start Time: 4 p.m. ET

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TV: ESPN 

Live Stream: ESPN.com or ESPN app

         

Preview

Osaka is looking to become the first top 10 seed to win the U.S. Open women's title since Angelique Kerber did so in 2016.

Azarenka will try to be the second unseeded player in four years to take home the crown. Sloane Stephens achieved that feat in 2017. 

The two players were scheduled to meet two weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open, but Osaka opted not to play as a precautionary measure. 

The walkover loss suffered by Osaka was the only defeat either player has had since arriving in New York to play the tune-up event and then the Grand Slam. 

Azarenka's run to the final has been more remarkable since she has played less tennis in 2020 than Osaka. Her coach Dorian Descloix said Azarenka is up for the task physically after three long weeks of tennis, per Reuters' Amy Tennery

"Physically she's ready, to be honest. She worked a lot the last few months," he said. "She worked every day on fitness. Even on the court we did a lot of long sessions on the court. Now she's ready."

Azarenka displayed some of her fitness Thursday night when she rallied from one set down to defeat Serena Williams for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament. 

In addition to defeating the No. 3 seed, the two-time major winner ousted No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 16 Elise Mertens and  No. 20 Karolina Muchova.

If she adds a fifth win over a seed to her resume Saturday, Azarenka would level the head-to-head series with Osaka. 

Osaka won her last two meetings with Azarenka, with the most recent win coming in three sets at the 2019 French Open. 

Azarenka's lone victory against Osaka came at the 2016 Australian Open before Osaka made her surge up the rankings. Walkovers do not count in head-to-head records, which is why the Western & Southern Open result is not included. 

A first-set victory would be massive for either player, and Osaka could have the advantage in that regard. She has not dropped an opening set in six matches, while Azarenka fell in the opening set in each of her three-set wins. 

If Saturday's final lasts three sets, Azarenka may not be as fortunate. Osaka has been a terrific closer in her trio of three-set victories. 

The No. 4 seed owns an 18-7 advantage in the third set, and if she faces that part of the match again, she could use that form to take her third Grand Slam crown.

         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from USOpen.org and WTATennis.com