Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka will start her campaign in the ongoing BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells against the Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic on Saturday evening. The match will be played on March 9 at 8:00 pm local time (4:00 am BST the next day). Get Naomi Osaka v Kristina Mladenovic live streaming options here.
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Naomi Osaka v Kristina Mladenovic Head to Head
The two players have met only twice and the head-to-head tally is currently tied at 1-1. Coincidentally, both of those matches took place in Dubai over the span of last year or so.
When they met in February this year, it was Mladenovic who stunned Osaka in the second round with a 6-3, 6-3 win.
Osaka, Looking to Win Another One
Around the same time last year, Naomi Osaka was not particularly on anyone’s radar. However, all of that changed right here in Indian Wells when she won her first title of the career.
The World No. 1 followed this win with the US Open title later in the season and soon propelled into the top five. This year, she surprised the fans once again by winning the Australian Open after defeating Petra Kvitova in the final.
The 21-year-old has achieved a lot already in her career – something that not many players have been able to do yet. She has proven that it was not a streak of luck that got her to the top but hard work and sheer dedication. At the same time, Osaka is yet to get used to the spotlight and that may affect her form on-court.
It will also be interesting to see how she fares in Indian Wells, given that she is playing with a new coach. Nonetheless, Osaka has an impressive record against many top players like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova, and Kvitova, and these wins alone should give her the confidence to defend her title.
Mladenovic – A Formidable Opponent
Mladenovic hasn’t achieved a lot as a singles player but on the doubles circuit, she has done really well. She is currently the World No. 4 in the doubles ranking, owing to her runner-up feat in the Australian Open with Timea Babos.
She will be hoping to take that momentum in this match, especially against a player she has already defeated once this season. But it will be quite difficult for Mladenovic to do this, given that up until WTA Dubai, she never managed to move past the first round.
Her last event was the 125K Series event in Indian Wells itself, where she lost her opening game to Timea Bacsinszky.
Osaka v Mladenovic Predictions & Tips
By all means, Osaka will start here as the favourite to win. She has the momentum, form, and winning experience needed to reach the next round comfortably. However, as mentioned before, she is playing under the guidance of a new coach against a player she lost to a couple of weeks ago.
Things are not the same as they were last year for the Japanese. While they are a whole lot better, the real test for Osaka will be her ability to deal with this newly-found success and not fall to complacency.
Tip: Osaka to win: 1/4 (William Hill)
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