2018 US Open WTA Semifinal Preview: Madison Keys vs Naomi Osaka

We’re down to the final four in New York after a wacky fortnight which saw the massive elimination of top seeds, extreme weather and some crazy umpiring incidents. As always though, the depth on the tour is excellent and our four semifinalists are all seeded players. The bottom half of the draw has given us a Madison Keys – Naomi Osaka semifinal – the pair have met in New York before in a crazy match where Keys recovered from a 1-5 deficit in the third set. Will Keys get another win against Osaka on Arthur Ashe Stadium, or will the Japanese flag continue to fly higher and higher? Continue reading for my analysis of our second semifinal of the day…

US Open, Semifinal

[14] Madison Keys (No.14) vs [20] Naomi Osaka (No.20)

Image result for keys us open 2018

Keys is one round away from defending all her finalist points from last year’s US Open, and it did not look all that likely when she was drawn to face nemesis Angelique Kerber in the fourth round here. The draw indeed opened up for Keys after Kerber, Garcia, Ostapenko and Sharapova’s exits, but the American has taken great advantage of it by making it past her rounds without much fuss. Keys dropped just one set against Aleksandra Krunic, whilst beating her other opponents Pauline Parmentier, Bernarda Pera, Dominika Cibulkova and Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets. Keys defeated Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-3 – the scoreline doesn’t suggest how close the match was as Keys just needed to break serve once in each set to secure the win. Keys was very patient in rallies throughout the match and was impressive in her movement as well.

While this is Keys’ second straight US Open semifinal, it is Osaka’s first ever Grand Slam semifinal appearance after the Japanese player cruised past Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 (what a day for Japanese tennis!). Osaka has been so good this fortnight – excluding a rollercoaster quarterfinal match against Aryna Sabalenka, the Japanese player had beaten Laura Siegemund, Julia Glushko, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Tsurenko with the loss of just nine games. I did not watch her match against Tsurenko but it seemed like she put in a solid performance with 12 winners and 11 unforced errors, while Tsurenko didn’t, hitting 34 unforced errors in total. Osaka has been so confident, steady and fiery and is looking so good with her new mindset having been struggling for form after her biggest triumph in Indian Wells earlier this year.

Head to head: Keys leads the head to head 2-0, with one of those wins coming at New York two years ago. Osaka had famously led 5-1 in the deciding set before Keys staged a huge comeback to secure a 7-5 4-6 7-6(3).

Thoughts: Both players have very similar hard-hitting games – Keys perhaps has a little more variety with the kick serve and good touch at the net, but Osaka has been so good in her service games this fortnight. Osaka has been more dominant in her rounds, but Keys will be her first top 20 opponent here. With this arguably being the biggest match of her young tennis career, I’ll have to go for Keys who is more experienced and will be able to draw from the home crowd for support. Another factor – this will be Osaka’s first match under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium this fortnight, while Keys has way more experience with matches at night. As always, hoping that this will be a well-fought encounter…

Final Prediction: Madison Keys d. Naomi Osaka in three sets

Thanks for reading! Check out my US Open predictions here or at the top of the page!

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