Naomi Osaka’s career trajectory is quite promising. She is in her 4th major final since Sept. 2018. Even if Osaka loses this match, these results project out to many major finals and titles. Jennifer Brady won the Top Seed Open in Lexington, KY last summer (shameless Kentucky plug from “Kentucky” Dan Martin). She also reached the 2020 US Open semifinal losing to Naomi Osaka in a tight 3 set match. Osaka’s run to the final of the New York version of the Cincinnati event, Brady’s win in Lexington, their combined record of 24-1 at the two most recent hard court majors means they are quite likely the two best hard court players on the WTA Tour right now.
Jennifer Brady has shown that she can make deep runs at majors. A win in Melbourne would forever transform her career. Her fitness and professionalism have led to wins and more wins. Brady could win this match given how close their US Open match was last September. Still, Osaka is on a rendezvous with history and this match would simply add to an already impressive career.
What Will Happen?
I think Brady has weapons, will have a good game plan, and will fight for this title. Therefore, I expect the match to be fairly close and one in which Brady could win. I also think that Osaka’s serve, movement, iron will, and bludgeoning backhand will be the difference. All pros, this side of Fabrice Santoro, can crush a ball when it is in the right spot. Osaka’s movement and ball striking acumen allow her to hit great shots more frequently than anyone on the WTA Tour. She has yet to figure out clay or grass (I expect that she eventually will), but with solid footing underneath, Naomi Osaka is the best player in the world. That makes her the favorite.
My Prediction: Naomi Osaka d. Jennifer Brady 7-6 (3), 6-3