Former world number one Mats Wilander believes Naomi Osaka has the advantage over Serena Williams ahead of their semi-final clash at the Australian Open.
Williams is famously challenging for her 24th Championship title and has had a solid tournament so far only dropping one set in the fourth round against a strong Aryna Sabalenka.
Meanwhile Osaka is hoping for her fourth Grand Slam title, her second in Australia, and has also only dropped one set all tournament in her fourth round clash with Garbine Muguruza.
The first on-court clash between the players took place in the 2018 US Open final and had a controversial end with Osaka taking the title, but Williams stealing the headlines due to on-court altercations with the Umpire.
Despite this and a 16-year age gap between them, the two players have become close friends, and are evenly matched in head-to-head encounters with two wins each.
Now looking ahead at their Australian Open semi-final, Eurosport analysts have been giving their opinions on what promises to be a close match.
“I think Naomi Osaka serves well enough where she can hold serve by getting free points and Serena is going to feel some pressure” said Mats Wilander.
“I think Osaka hits the ball harder where she goes close to the line or not and will put Serena on the defence, just like we saw at the US Open final – that infamous match.
“Osaka is a better player now and I think Osaka realises she is better than Serena and I think Serena is going to have pick up her game to another level to have a chance.”
However, Wilander’s Eurosport colleague, Tim Henman, believes Williams might have the edge.
“I do think you have to pick Serena Williams as the favourite because she takes the racquet out of the opponent’s hand” said Henman.
“When she is hitting serves, she has hit a couple at 200kmh, when she is cutting down the angles and hitting those big ground strokes, there’s very little that the opponents can do.
“The question mark for me is whether she can maintain it” Henman concluded.
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