Naomi Osaka vs Monica Niculescu Tennis Prediction
Naomi Osaka started the grass season with her first tour-level semifinal on this surface at Nottingham, defeating Buzarnescu, Vickery, and Allertova (l. eventual champion Barty), However, in the following week, she retired from Birmingham second round, citing abdominal injury (the same injury which forced her to retire at 2017 Toronto).
Osaka, who lifted her first career title at Indian Wells this March (d. Kasatkina), has an excellent record of 8-1 in Grand Slam first round matches, with the sole loss coming at 2017 French Open. She made her debut at Wimbledon main draw last year, falling to Venus Williams in the third round.
Monica Niculescu was having a decent season, with a quarterfinal at Hobart and third rounds at Doha and Miami. However, the former world #28 had to go on a two-month break due to a back injury in March, before she could play her next tournament at ITF Khimki in May (l. Potapova in the semifinal).
The Romanian’s best result at Wimbledon is a fourth-round run in 2015, for which she had to defeat Puig, Cepelova, and Kr. Pliskova (l. Bacsinszky). It was her second such appearance at a slam after the one in 2011 US Open, the run which eventually made her a top 30 player.
This will be the pair’s first meeting. Niculescu has a 2-11 record against top 20 opponents in slams (0-4 at Wimbledon), with last such win coming against Mladenovic in 2017 US Open. Osaka, with her big serve on a fast surface like grass, should be able to get the better of Niculescu.
Tennis Picks: Naomi Osaka