Gauff, Bencic, Halep, and More: Naomi Osaka’s Road to Western & Southern Open 2021 Final

Published 08/13/2021, 11:17 PM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 2 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts after winning her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland REUTERS/Mike Segar


Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has reached the last big stop before the US Open, the Western and Southern Open 2021. However, she faces an arduous path to go all the way in the WTA 1000 Cincinnati tournament.

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Since her Australian Open triumph, the 23-year-old Osaka has played a few select tournaments only. Even then, the expectations from her in every event have been nothing short of winning the title.

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Accordingly, the second seed would hope to get her 2021 season back on track in Cincinnati. Not to forget, it would make for a perfect buildup for her US Open title defense.

Western & Southern Open 2021: Naomi Osaka’s path

Last year, the Cincinnati event had transpired in New York, where Osaka reached the finals. But because of a left hamstring, she withdrew and handed the title to the two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

This year, the Western and Southern Open is returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, its traditional location. Hence, the different atmosphere than New York would add to the challenge for Osaka.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 2 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her second round match against Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland REUTERS/Mike Segar

The primary challenge, however, remains the star-studded player’s field against the Japanese star. But since she is the second seed, she received a bye in Round 1.

As per the draw, Osaka will meet either 17-year-old American Coco Gauff or a Qualifier in her opening match. It would indeed be an intriguing contest to see Osaka and Gauff battle again on the WTA Tour.

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Potential matches for Naomi Osaka in Cincinnati 2021

Following R2, the World No.2 could potentially meet reigning French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Istanbul champion Sorana Cirstea in the pre-quarters.

Afterward, the path gets steeper for Osaka as she could face either Tokyo Olympics gold and silver medalists, Belinda Bencic or Marketa Vondrousova, or Canadian star Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Medal Ceremony – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 31, 2021. Gold medallist Belinda Bencic of Switzerland celebrates on the podium REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Besides the already challenging path, the Japanese star has a potential clash set up against two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep or World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.

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Ultimately, she could run into World No.1 Ashleigh Barty for the Cincinnati title. Note that the above matchups are per their seedings.

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In short, there is no doubt that Osaka has some massive work lying ahead of her. But also, the Western and Southern Open would serve her as a perfect test as it arrives a week before going to New York.

Do you think Osaka can win the WTA 1000 Cincinnati this year? What do you make of her potential path to the finals?

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Purav Joshi

1131 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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