Serena vs Osaka
This has been Naomi Osaka’s Grand Slam arrival party, the 20 year old Japanese player has lost only one set all tournament, against an in form Aryna Sabalenka in the 4thround, she has a big game and has learnt how to use it.
Serena has been building nicely and has lost only 10 games in Quarter final and Semi final routs. Here we have a player who will compete in her very first Grand Slam final against a player competing in her 31st.
Why Osaka will win
Pete Sampras won the US Open as a 19 year old, the reason was he stayed calm and all the pressure was on Agassi. Calm is the key word for Osaka, who has admitted after winning the big event in Indian Wells in March that the weight of expectation got to her, these two weeks though she has been calm under pressure, especially in a pressure packed semi final win over Madison Keys, if the moment doesn’t get to her Osaka has the weapons to win but she has to find a way to get back the serve of Serena.
Why Serena will win
Experience means something; the old adage ‘been there done that’ does ring true. In a lot of ways this match will go beyond serves, forehands and backhands. In the Wimbledon final against Kerber Serena looked sluggish, which means nerves, compare the footwork in that match against her last two matches in New York, we’re looking at a different player. Nobody can beat Serena if she remains calm.
These two have played before, in Miami earlier this year, it was Serena’s fourth match back after having a baby, Osaka won in straight sets but you can throw that result out the window.
This Serena is different to that one. This match also has historical applications as the American is looking to match Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slams
Calm is the common theme here, for Osaka it’s dealing with a moment she’s never experienced, for Serena it’s dealing with a moment that will go along way to cementing her as the best ever.
The first 3 or 4 games will be important, if Osaka is making mistakes and rushing Serena could overwhelm her and we’ll be in for a quick final, if Osaka keeps it close 2-2, 3-3, and gets into the rallies it means she has settled in. Either way Serena will win and reach an astronomical 24 Slams.
Del Potro vs Djokovic
You may have wanted Federer vs Nadal but this is marquee as well.
I love seeing Del Potro back in a Grand Slam final, there is no doubt if the 29 year old had stayed fit these last 10 years he would have stole a few Grand Slam titles from Roger, Novak, Murray and Nadal, he is that good a player. For Novak the revival continues, he has picked up right where he left off after Wimbledon and has left behind the last 2 years of injury and lack of motivation, this is shaping up as great final.
Why Del Potro will win
Del Po looks good, really good, even before the Rafa knee injury in the semi’s he was dominating the rallies, he is coming over the backhand, something he has been hesitant to do since multiple wrist surgeries, the Argentine can beat anybody on any given day, there’s almost a sense of ‘his moment has arrived’, he also feeds off the crowd and has fans from his hometown called the ‘Tandil Ten’ who are chanting between points, don’t be surprised if he wins this.
Why Novak will win
This match will be close and only a few points will decide it, from a fitness perspective the longer it drags on that will favor Novak and only Rafa can play defense like Novak, which helps him as the speed of the court is slow/medium. I have a feeling that Del Po will use his slice more as Novak loves the pace and getting in rhythm, which will prolong the rallies and that favors Novak, if he doesn’t let his emotions out of the box Novak will win.
The head to head is 14-4 for Novak with the Serbian winning the last 3; I feel that’s all a bit misleading, as Del Po seems a different player these two weeks, in fact its probably the best he’s played since he won his only Slam final back in 2009 at the US Open.
This will be Novak’s 23rdGrand Slam final; he is 13-9 and is vying to match Pete Sampras with 14 Slams. Novak will be vey hard to beat but Del Po has the game to do it, if they played 10 times Novak would win 6 or 7 but right now there is some magic happening around Del Po, he will win his second Grand Slam in a thriller.