It's not been a very good time for Osaka regarding the draws this year. She drew Caroline Garcia in Melbourne and lost in that match. She drew Danielle Collins at the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi, and the American is a qualifier.
Imagine drawing a former Grand Slam finalist in the role of a qualifier. And if that's not enough, she gets to play Elena Rybakina if she wins that match. That's just brutal, but that's what happens when players lose their ranking.
To avoid that in the future, Osaka needs wins, so let's see if she can get this one. Collins should be a fair matchup for her on the court, but the American is playing with an added motivation because she's retiring this year. That'll certainly motivate her a bit more than usual, making this match a bit more complicated.
Osaka and Collins have played a couple of times already, with the Japanese player leading 3-1. The most recent match was in 2022 at the US Open, and Collins won that match 7-6(5) 6-3. That was her only win, and it came at a time when Osaka was not at her best.
That's the case this time around as well, but the American isn't playing all too well either. She will have the benefit of having played at the event already, as opposed to Osaka, who wasn't playing the qualifiers.
I think that will matter a bit because Osaka lacks matches. I do think that she'll play a really solid match but I'm not so convinced that she'll easily win it. I'll trust her to get the win in three sets, though.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in three sets.