Last week gave us a taste of what I think will be a big, big rivalry over the coming years, when Naomi Osaka played Bianca Andreescu in Beijing. Osaka taking the spoils on this occasion. Both players showcased that ability to raise their level time after time during the match though and it is something they have shown us before in abdundance. There are obviously a lot of potential threats to this rivalry in the future, most notably Coco Gauff, but it is too much to expect that straight away from the American. The three-year gap between Osaka and Andreeescu at (nearly) 22 and 19 respectively means they have so many years ahead of them. We also know they are both the real deal already. Proven winners.
It had looked like Osaka’s season was petering out until recently. Winning in Tokyo and then Beijing last week has put her bang back inform and if she can continue this, she will really like her chances at the Aussie. Form is temporary, class is permanent and in truth, it was only a matter of time until she got that swagger back! We know from the backend of last year and the start of this, that when she gets on a roll she is a very tough nut to crack. I think she is starting to relax again and that is dangerous news for most. The proof is in the pudding.
Andreescu’s form and win/loss record in 2019 tells it’s own story. She is 40-5 for the season and one of those defeats was a retirement in Miami. Her whirlwind tennis over in Canada and New York was absolutely magnificent. Like Osaka, she will just tee-off, punishing anything short from her opponents. Remorseless at times. Injuries have been a worry but that can surely be the only thing that can stop her achieving a lot, lot more.
In addition to their blistering shot-making, both of these players possess the mental strength required to be at the very top of the sport. A great example would be when they both beat Serena, who even though not at her best was beaten without so much as a blink of an eye. It is a very strong mentality and we know how vital it is. There is an unwavering belief to back themselves at any point in a match and go after their shots. Mostly making them!
The Canadian complimented Rena by calling her ‘a f***ing beast’ at the Rogers Cup this year. I think it is fair to say that both Bianca and Naomi are looking to leave a similar mark on their opposition too.
Andy Del Potro