After six rounds of battle, it's the final of the women's singles at the US Open, with Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka meeting tonight. Dan Weston previews the championship match...
"This match is certainly a contrast of styles, with the big-serving Osaka matched with the return game of Azarenka."
Osaka and Azarenka repeat scheduled Western & Southern final
Several weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open, there was scheduled to be a final between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka, but Osaka - priced at just over 1.501/2 - withdrew before the match took place. However, we get the chance to see the two players fight it out tonight with a complete replication of that final - they meet again here and the market has hardly altered for it either, with Osaka currently trading at 1.618/13 on the Exchange.
This looks a little short but nothing remotely actionable. I have Osaka at 1.684/6 and Azarenka at 2.47, and I'd probably want closer to 3.002/1 on the Belarussian for it to be something to look at closer.
Contrast of styles likely to be evident
In the last 12 months on hard court, Azarenka has worse service data, holding around 12% less than Osaka, but she does have a smaller edge on return so Osaka's status as a favourite looks justifiable. Osaka holds almost 86% of the time on hard court during this time period which is a magnificent number, and this gives her the advantage going into the clash.
Furthermore, in the tournament so far, Osaka's superiority on serve is again evidenced by winning 8.6% more service points, but again Azarenka has been better on return, but to a lesser extent. This completely goes in line with a bigger sample of player data and provides no evidence to the contrary about Osaka's status as favourite.
This match is certainly a contrast of styles, with the big-serving Osaka matched with the top-level return game of Azarenka. Osaka does have the pre-match edge, but the elite-level return of Azarenka will test her serve and the result certainly isn't a foregone conclusion. There's not much in the way of pre-match value, but a fascinating final is in prospect.
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