Petra Kvitova and Naomi Osaka will battle it out on Saturday for a first Australian Open title and the World No.1 ranking at the end of the fortnight. Nothing much, eh? It promises to be a hard-hitting and very intriguing final so let’s dive into the preview straight away…
Australian Open, Final
 Petra Kvitova (No.6) vs  Naomi Osaka (No.4)
Kvitova’s route to the final
R1: d. Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-3 6-2
R2: d. Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-1 6-3
R3: d. Belinda Bencic, 6-1 6-4
R4: d. Amanda Anisimova, 6-1 6-2
QF: d.  Ashleigh Barty, 6-1 6-4
SF: d. Danielle Collins, 7-6(2) 6-0
There’s no doubt that Petra Kvitova’s route to the final has been much more easier than her opponent on Saturday, Naomi Osaka, but the Czech fully deserves it after what she has gone through over the past few years. There have been glimpses of Peak Petra in all her matches this fortnight, which is really surprising considering (a) she was terrible in the Slams last year, failing to reach the second week in any of them, (b) the last time Petra reached the semifinals in Melbourne was back in 2012 and (c) she had a grueling week in Sydney, winning the title there. Melbourne is always known for their soaring temperatures, which is never good news for Petra, so one reason why she has made it this far this year is definitely due to the match scheduling for the Czech. All of her matches, except the semifinal, was played in the afternoon or the night sessions.
Obviously though, all credit must go to Kvitova’s tennis this fortnight, especially the way she dismantled Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals. The pair played an exhausting 1-6 7-5 7-6(3) final in Sydney, but this time round Kvitova turned the tables around with a very comprehensive 6-1 6-4 victory. Kvitova handled Barty’s backhand slices so well, used angles and completely overwhelmed the Australian by moving her from side to side. Against the semifinals against Danielle Collins, Kvitova was struggling to find her form due to the heat, but once the roof closed, Peak Petra immediately started to completely dominate Collins. With that, Petra is into her third Slam final, and first final in Melbourne…
Osaka’s route to the final
R1: d. Magda Linette, 6-4 6-2
R2: d. Tamara Zidansek, 6-2 6-4
R3: d.  Hsieh Su-Wei, 5-7 6-4 6-1
R4: d.  Anastasija Sevastova, 4-6 6-3 6-4
QF: d.  Elina Svitolina, 6-4 6-1
SF: d.  Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 4-6 6-4
Naomi Osaka is on a 13-match winning streak at Slam level and is showing no signs of stopping this year with a very impressive start to the season. While Kvitova has only played one seeded player thus far, Osaka has played four, and has showed this fortnight that she has so many assets to her game. Against Hsieh Su-Wei and Anastasija Sevastova, she showed that she is very capable of coming back from deficits and finding a different level to hit through the slice-and-dice game of the two players. Against Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova, the Japanese player dominated them with her raw power and impressive serving.
While it was one-way traffic against Svitolina, it was much more difficult against Pliskova who took advantage of a lapse of concentration from Osaka to force the match into a deciding set. However, Osaka brought her best level when it mattered most as she saved a number of break points in the third and successfully served out the match for her second Slam final. I don’t know the stats, but it’s probably a very rare occasion for a player to back up their Slam triumph with another awesome run in the next Slam. We’ve seen players such as Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki perform badly in their next few tournaments after winning their maiden Slams. However, Osaka is turning out to be a completely different breed – finals in Tokyo, semifinals in Beijing and Brisbane, and now the final in Melbourne. Such an impressive mindset for a 21-year-old…
Head to head: This will be their first meeting on the tour, which makes it even more exciting!
Stats: Osaka is 6-4 against left-handers on the tour. (losses have come against Angelique Kerber (x3) and Lucie Safarova)
Since the 2012 Australian Open, Kvitova has lost her last eight of 14 matches against top 20 opposition at the Grand Slam level, and her last five of six matches against top 10 players at the Slams.
Kvitova is 26-7 in finals, and has won her last eight finals on the tour. Her last loss in a final came back in 2016 in Luxembourg.
Thoughts: Match-ups involving two hard-hitters are always interesting to see which big-hitter comes up tops in the baseline rallies! Osaka has been the much more impressive player this tournament for me in my opinion, with how she has been able to bring out her top gear when up against adversities. However, this will be her first match of the year against a left-handed player, and Kvitova’s raw power is completely different than anyone she has faced this fortnight.
As aforementioned, Kvitova is a completely different player in the latter end of tournaments, especially finals, but you never know what nerves might do to a player, even an experienced veteran. Kvitova is definitely one of the best players never to reach the pinnacle of the WTA rankings, and a Slam title after everything she has gone through would be pretty amazing.
As usual, hoping this will be a very competitive match… Slightly in favour of Petra with her lefty game and stunning ability to step it up for the big finals.
Final Prediction: Petra Kvitova d. Naomi Osaka in three sets
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Australian Open predictions here or at the top of the page!