Australian Open women's final betting tips: Kvitova, Osaka square off for the title and top ranking
Australian Open women's final odds and prediction
Naomi Osaka (+115) vs Petra Kvitova (-133)
A new Australian Open champion and world number one are on the line in a captivating women's final, as Petra Kvitova faces off against Naomi Osaka in a battle of powerful forces in Melbourne on Saturday night.
It truly is as good a women's final as Tennis Australia, the WTA and the rest of the tennis community could dream of, as these two explosive hitters could set the tone for a dominant 2019 with a special title here. Here are the thoughts form our tennis expert on this anticipated showdown, and you can bet on the match here at this link.
The road to the final...
The Czech has finally reached her first Slam final outside of Wimbledon, as Kvitova's improved fitness over the years has reduced her struggles with asthma. Kvitova confirmed her title credentials with a statement revenge thrashing of Amanda Anisimova in round four, followed by another exemplary display of lefty power tennis by easing past Ashleigh Barty.
In the semi-finals, the tennis gods blessed Kvitova without having to play a full match in 100 degree heat, as the two-time Wimbledon winner went on to roll to victory against feisty American Danielle Collins. So far in her six matches in Melbourne, Kvitova has not lost a set.
In contrast to Kvitova's lack of drama, it has been a true test of character for Osaka. The reigning US Open champion was on the brink of defeat in the third round against Su-Wei Hsieh, five points away from elimination. But Osaka recovered superbly to get through to face Anastasija Sevastova, which again saw her tested with a second consecutive comeback victory from a set down.
The 21-year-old would then go on to rediscover, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, the form that has her now as a Slam winner. She rolled to a dominant win over Elina Svitolina after that match started off as close. Osaka proceded to then hold off a game Karolina Pliskova in a terrific semi-final to advance to her first championship match on Rod Laver Arena.
These two cannot go off of past experiences playing each other like they did their semi-final opponents, as this will be the first Kvitova vs Osaka faceoff.
The key to the match...
Both players know that they would rather be powerfully on the front foot against each other than scrambling on the back foot.
That is why both serving and defending will be vital, with both players featuring ominious big hitting with their forehands and backhands. Will Osaka's better movement be enough for her to weather Kvitova's offense a few key times? And will Petra's defending be resolute just those few times to survive Osaka's quick, lightening and thunderous strokes?
This is one of the few matches where Kvitova comes into the contest as the less powerful player, so serving well is more vital for her than it is for Osaka.
Prediction: Osaka in two tight, great sets
Both players have shown that they can peak in big finals, with the 28-year-old Czech obviously having more of them. But this again is one of the rare contests in which she is the second most powerful player on the court. And though Kvitova has enjoyed a great run since winning the Sydney title, she hasn't faced a player in Melbourne as powerful as Osaka.
I just can't see Kvitova playing the necessary defense to combat Osaka's better, innate ability to turnaround points from defense to offense in one shot. But it should be, whether two or three sets, a great must see contest.