Safarova vs Osaka 21.06.17
Aegon Classic, Birmingham, England, Grass Courts, WTA Tour
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Today we look at the first Premier 500 grass court tournament of the season from the WTA, the Aegon classic, played in Birmingham, England. The tournament is held at the Edgbaston Priory club, and has been on the Tour since 1982. It received an upgrade to a Permier 500 event in 2014, and now carries prize money totalling $710,000. Recent winners include Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber and last year, Madison Keys, none of whom are playing here this week. It is a popular tournament amongst the worlds elite though, Kristina Mladenovic, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Johanna Konta are all going to be in Second Round action here as they continue their preparations for Wimbledon. Today however sees us focus on the match between Czech wold number 41, Lucie Safarova and Japanese world number 61, Naomi Osaka.
This will be the pair’s first meeting, however both did play in Nottingham last week. Safarova reached the Semi Finals eventually losing in a third set tie break to eventual winner Donna Vekic, whereas Osaka was knocked out in the first Round in straight sets to Kristie Ahn.
Safarova’s recent grass court mean serving stats look like this, he’s won 61% of his service points and held serve 76% of the time.
Osaka’s recent grass court mean serving stats look like this, he’s won 54% of his service points and held serve 55% of the time.
Safarova has a tricky lefty serve, which will be skidding into Osaka’s backhand, if the Czech keeps her first serve % high today she should win plenty of free points off that. Osaka has been struggling with her serve of late and if she doesn’t improve on these numbers today I fully expect her to get broken multiple times.
Safarova’s recent grass court mean returning stats look like this, he’s won 41% of his return points, 45% of his break points and opponents have held 71% of the time against him.
Osaka’s recent grass court returning stats look like this, he’s won 37% of his return points, 83% of his break points and opponents have held 76% of the time against him.
Safarova has a good return of serve and she will get plenty of balls back into play, she should get a good look in on the Osaka serve so i expect to see higher numbers than these today. Osaka also returns serve pretty well, what’s interesting from here stats his is her extremely high break point conversion %, she’s unlikely to get too many chances on the Safarova serve today, but if she can convert a high % of any break point chances she might get, then we could see a much closer match.
Both will look to get their forehands into play as much as possible, as this is where they both are more comfortable attacking from. Safarova will be hitting hers predominantly to the weaker backhand side of Osaka, where she sometimes struggles to defend. Osaka will hit her forehand flatter and harder, and if firing this can be the source of a number of flashy winners. Both women are good athletes and fast movers both along the baseline and forward to short balls, however Safarova is the more consistent when having to defend.
I think Safarova has a great chance here, i think her more consistent all round game should be enough to win this. She does tend to make a habit of playing three set matches on grass though, so don’t be surprised to see another here, especially if Osaka is able to start dictating with that forehand.
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