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AO women’s final preview & betting tips: Naomi Osaka vs Petra Kvitova

This match is live from Melbourne Park on Saturday, 26 January from 9:30am Nigerian Time

Not only will it be a maiden Australian Open title for both women, but also a rise to the WTA top spot. Whoever wins will take home the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and be crowned number one in the world for the very first time.

Victory for Osaka will see her become the first Japanese player in history to be ranked world number one.

For Kvitova, it’ll be a first time at the top of the rankings, having first come close in 2011 when she was ranked 2nd. Both women, however, are unbothered about the ranking, as they have their sights firmly fixed on securing a first Australian Open title on Saturday.

“For me, my main goal is winning this tournament,” Osaka, who’s seeded 4th, said. “I think the ranking comes after that. I tend to do better if I focus on one goal.”

When Kvitova was asked about the possibility of being No.1, she simply said: “I don’t really care, to be honest.”

Upon further prodding, she said, “From my side, doesn’t really affect me at all. I’m here to play in the final of the major, and that’s how I do have my mindset. If that happens, it happens. It will just be very nice bonus of it, but I’m really thinking about the title only.”

28-year-old Petra Kvitova has played down the importance of the world number one ranking, but victory on Saturday will see her become the oldest debut world No.1 in the Open Era. Photo: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

The Australian Open title will be Kvitova’s first Grand Slam trophy since her Wimbledon triumph five years ago. The Czech has had a stunning start to the year, raking in 11 straight wins in Australia after lifting the Sydney International trophy two weeks ago, and is enjoying a fine renaissance, which she’s described as a “second career.”

In December 2016, the two-time Grand Slam winner suffered a career-threatening wrist injury in an attack that occurred in her home in Czech Republic.

“To be honest, I’m still not really believing that I’m in the final. It’s kind of weird, to be honest, as well, that I didn’t know even if I [was] going to play tennis again,” Kvitova said of the period following the serious knife injury that required hours of intricate surgery on her left playing hand. “It wasn’t only physically but mentally [it] was very tough, as well.”

She’s in the final now, and having played remarkably well to get here, is wary of the threats Osaka pose.

“Definitely I need to play my best tennis,” the 28-year-old said. “I think Naomi is on fire. She’s an aggressive player, which I am as well. So I think it will be about who is going to take the first point and push the other a little bit.”

Osaka is on a 13-match winning streak in Grand Slam tournaments, and one more win will see become the first player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to back up a maiden Grand Slam title with another major title immediately.

Naomi Osaka is on the brink of history. Photo: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

The Japanese, however, reckons facing Kvitova for the first time will be no easy task.

“I think to have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a Grand Slam is something very amazing,” said Osaka. “I’ve watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is. It’s definitely going to be very tough for me.”

Kvitova hasn’t dropped a set here all fortnight. Aside that, she hasn’t lost in eight previous finals she’s played in.

“I think it feels better to know this, that I do have better percentage of winning than losing in the final,” said the world No.6. “Every final is different, because every time is just different opponent or different place or time but I really love playing finals.

“I love playing on the big stages and this will be one of them.”

Wakabet is offering a rich 2.28 odds for this match to be decided in 3 sets. I tell you, I see this no other way. Both women have been in incredible form throughout this tournament. And both are prepared to go all out for victory on Saturday. Should be a grippingly tight affair.

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