Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 WTA Tour: WTA Premier Five

2020 WTA Tour: WTA Premier Five

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The quarterfinals takes center stage at WTA Premier Five, Flushing Meadows, New York, Outdoor Hardcourt. Damien Kayat previews the respective matchups between Ons Jabeur vs Victoria Azarenka as well as 
Naomi Osaka vs Anett Kontaveit.
Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2020 WTA Tour  | Flushing Meadows, New York, Outdoor Hardcourt
WTA Premier Five
Selected Quarterfinals

Ons Jabuer (6/10)
Victoria Azarenka (5/4)
The travails of Former World Number One Victoria Azarenka have been immense.  She has been embroiled in an epic custody battle that has certainly impacted her performances on court. Prior to this week, she had yet to win a match in this COVID-affected season.  Azarenka seemed to make some strides last year, reaching the Final in Monterrey before withdrawing due to injury (another bugbear for Azarenka). The 2013 Cincinnati Champion- when this event was actually in Cincinnati- Azarenka has nonetheless got quite an impressive Flushing Meadows record. The two-time US Open runner-up has looked imperious this week. She is yet to drop a set and looks set for the year’s first Major. Victories against Garcia, Vekic and Cornet have showcased her powerful groundstrokes.  Azarenka has caused a bit of a stir this week by publicly lambasting fellow professionals for their untidy behavior on the practice courts. She will be looking to channel that frustration into something positive as she comes up against the ebullient Ons Jabeur. 

Although she needed three sets to overcome the unheralded Fernandez, Ons Jabeur has otherwise looked extremely sharp this week. Her variety of play has seen her dominate the likes of McHale and Madison Keys.  She has back-to-back quarterfinal appearances coming into this event: though those events were separated by the COVID outbreak. The real highlight of her year (and indeed career thus far) was her quarterfinal run in Melbourne.  She broke new ground, becoming the first Aran woman to reach a Grand Slam Quarterfinal. The 25-year-old Tunisian will look to test the mobility of Azarenka- who has had several injury issues over the years. Look for Jabeur to pull Azarenka towards the net as often as possible, while the Belarusian will look to hang back and dominate the longer rallies. 

This will be the first time these two would have met, which is not surprising when you consider all the legal shenanigans that Azarenka has been embroiled in.  I think there’s value in playing Azarenka at 5/4. She looks to have possibly benefitted from the equal playing field necessitated by COVID. The unforced break may have helped her refocus her energies.  

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Naomi Osaka (4)
vs Anett Kontaveit (12)

2018 US Open Champion Naomi Osaka is looking to add to her Grand Slam tally in the absence of many of the top female players. Defending US Open Champion Bianca Andreescu joins the likes of Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty in swerving this year’s event in Flushing Meadows. Osaka will no doubt be looking to win her 2nd New York title following that Serena debacle in 2018. She battled past Muchova before absolutely obliterating Yastremska. It seemed to signal to me that Osaka is deadly serious about potentially recapturing the World Number One spot.  But in Anett Kontaveit she will meet a feisty foe in some decent form of her own.

Runner-up at the Palermo Open a few weeks back, Estonian sensation Anett Kontaveit will be looking to overturn a poor head-to-head record against Osaka. She seems to have effortlessly handled the switch from clay to hard surfaces. Her year-to-date stats read a healthy 19-6. The 2019 Miami semi-finalist once again showed her acumen for the harder surfaces by reaching her maiden Grand Slam Quarterfinal in Melbourne. Kontaveit will need to serve well: that is crucial. She will need to alternate between her high-kick serve and slightly flatter service. 

This will be their 4th encounter, with Osaka winning all three matches.  Both of their matches on hardcourts have ended in Osaka straight-sets victories. Yastremska didn’t have the firepower to stand up to Osaka; to make her move. Kontaveit has the endurance and fitness to really push Osaka. I think there’s value in the Estonian here.  Her record against top 10 players reads 11-19, and I think this could be an opportunity to tick that up to 12-19. 

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets

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