Naomi Osaka vs. Maria Sakkari
|Date & Time||Tuesday June 18, 2019, 8:00 AM (EDT)|
Edgbaston Priory Club
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari meet in the first round of the 2019 tennis Birmingham Classic.
Naomi Osaka will play her first match since losing in the first round of the French Open, a performance in which she got just 53 percent of her first serves in play and didn’t convert on any of her seven break points. Osaka also had 38 unforced errors in the losing effort and a combined 119 unforced errors in the three matches. Osaka has been up and down all season and has battled injuries along with dealing with the pressure of being the top ranked player in the world. Despite grand slam titles under her belt, it’s easy to forget that Osaka is still just 21 years old. Still, Osaka is no longer the lock to make deep tournament runs the way she was a few months ago, as the struggling play has been a constant this season. Osaka has split her last six matches on grass court.
Maria Sakkari is fresh off the quarterfinals in Nottingham and has won nine of her last 12 match overall if you include two qualifying matches in Rome. Sakkari has been healthy serving wise for the most part and has been key in winning the big points, which is why 11 of her last 14 victories have been decided in straight sets. Sakkari gives herself a great chance as long as first service numbers continue to thrive. Sakkari hasn’t lost her opening match of a tournament since Madrid. Sakkari has four career wins over top-10 players, two of those wins coming this year. Sakkari has split her last six matches on grass court.
These two have split the previous two meetings, as Osaka won 2018 Indian Wells in three sets and Sakkari won 2018 Cincinnati in straight sets.
Osaka is the easy play here if she was playing well, but it’s hard to trust her at the moment and the constant errors are becoming a habit. Sakkari is playing some of her best tennis right now, has a couple of wins this year over top-10 players and beat Osaka comfortably in the last meeting. While an Osaka win obviously won’t surprise me, Sakkari is playing the better tennis right now and should be a nice value play if looking for a first round upset.