One of the highlights of day five of action at Wimbledon promises to be the third round encounter between young star Naomi Osaka, making her tournament debut, and five-time champion and tenth seed Venus Williams, with the two facing off for a spot in the second week.
The two have never faced off before, meaning there is a lot of interest heading into this encounter between the two, especially considering the fact that the two are contrasting stages of their careers. The winner of this match will face eighth seed Dominika Cibulkova or 27th seed Ana Konjuh in the fourth round.
So far at Wimbledon
Neither Osaka or Williams have found things too comfortable at SW19 so far, with both women coming through tight matches to reach this stage.
After missing the tournament last year due to injury, Osaka started her first ever Wimbledon campaign against Sara Sorribes Tormo, prevailing in two tight sets. Following that, the Japanese caused a slight upset in the second round, surviving a second set bagel to beat 20th seed Barbora Strycova to make the third round of a Grand Slam for the fourth time.
Following her strong run to the semifinals last year, Williams started her campaign against Elise Mertens, edging past the dangerous Belgium in a tight straight sets match. The tenth seed was given a huge scare in the second round, though came from a set down to beat Qiang Wang and reach the third round at Wimbledon for a staggering 17th time.
One of the most interesting aspects in this match is that both Osaka and Williams possess a lot of power, and have the ability to dictate play against their opponents if they are playing well. It will be highly interesting to see which of the two is able to get on the front foot the most and whether either will be able to use their raw power to their advantage.
One advantage likely to help Williams will be her experience, and particularly how comfortable she has found herself on grass in the past. However, the tenth seed will likely need to improve from her previous performance, and will certainly need to serve well against someone who can attack short balls fairly well. Also, Williams must take advantage of any nerves that Osaka shows; the Japanese has struggled with nerves in the past.
What could well help Osaka is that she is the slight underdog for this encounter, though she must try to not be too intimidated by the occasion, especially if this match is on one of the bigger courts. The Japanese must go for her shots and must try to make Williams move around the court, as movement is one advantage that she has in this match-up, as well as look to serve well and try to disrupt the American’s rhythm much as possible.
This should undoubtedly be a fun match to watch, and it will certainly attract a lot of interesting in terms of the generation gap between the two. Osaka certainly has the weapons to challenge the American and is undoubtedly dangerous, though it seems Williams should just have enough to take the win here.
Prediction: Venus Williams in three sets