Fixture: (22) Belinda Bencic vs Naomi Osaka
Date: 31 March 2022
Venue: Miami, Florida, USA
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Prize money: $8,584,055
telecast: USA – Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK – Amazon Prime Video
Belinda Bencic vs Naomi Osaka preview
Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka are set for an exciting semi-final showdown at the 2022 Miami Open on Thursday.
Bencic seems to have rediscovered her form after consecutive opening-round losses at the two WTA 1000 events prior to Miami. After a first-round bye, the Swiss defeated Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-1 to progress to the third round.
HeatherWatson and Aliaksandra Sasnovich were similarly disposed of in straight sets. Bencic defeated Daria Saville 6-1, 6-2 in the last eight to reach the semifinals of a WTA 1000 tournament for the first time since the 2019 Madrid Open.
Naomi Osaka started the year on a strong note, reaching the semifinals of the Melbourne Summer Set but withdrew due to injury. Her title defense at the Australian Open ended in the third round against Amanda Anisimova.
At the Indian Wells Open, Osaka defeated 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round. In the second round, a heckler reduced the Japanese star to tears with, leading to a 6-0, 6-4 loss.Osaka has rebounded well in Miami.
She started off with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Astra Sharma. She defeated three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-3 and a walkover from Karolina Muchova saw her advance to the fourth round of the WTA 1000 event.
Osaka defeated Alison Riske 6-3, 6-4 in Round of 16, followed by a 6-2, 6-1 victory over 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals. The former World No. 1 has reached the biggest semifinal of her career since the 2021 Australian Open.
Belinda Bencic vs Naomi Osaka head-to-head
The pair have faced off four times before, with Bencic leading 3-1 in the head-to-head. The Swiss won their most recent encounter at the 2019 US Open in straight sets.
Both players have played extremely well in Miami so far. Given her positive record against Osaka, Bencic will be feeling quite confident about her chances. All three of her wins against the Japanese came in 2019 in some of the biggest tournaments on the WTA tour.
Osakaended her four-match losing streak against Kerber last week and will be looking to do the same against Bencic. The former World No. 1 hit 13 aces in the last match. A similar performance will definitely give her an edge against the Swiss.
Bencic’sforehand has proved particularly useful against Osaka in the past, and she will rely on it to do most of the damage. Her serving stats, however, have been rather poor when compared to the four-time Grand Slam champion’s. She will need to improve those numbers to give herself any chance against a rampaging Osaka.
While the Japanese has been on the backfoot for most of this rivalry, she appears to be completely dialed in at the moment.
Osaka has found a way to deal with her off-court troubles and that has translated into success on the court.
This seems like the perfect opportunity for her to turn the tables on Bencic and pull one back in their lop-sided rivalry.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in straight sets.