Second-round action at the WTA Japan Open Tennis Championships in Osaka concludes on Thursday. Top seed Zhu Lin takes center stage as she battles home wild card Moyuka Uchijima. There is also an interesting matchup between in-form qualifier Elizabeth Mandlik who is up against big-serving Rebecca Marino. Who will reach the quarterfinals in Osaka?
WTA Osaka Day 4 Predictions
Elizabeth Mandlik vs Rebecca Marino
Head-to-head: first meeting
Elizabeth Mandlik has won three successive matches in Osaka, with two of them in qualifying. It’s been a while since she defeated a Top 100 player. It has taken close to three months to do that, with her last such win coming during her quarterfinal run in Nottingham. A straight sets win over World No. 90 Diane Parry in her opener should give her so much confidence to approach her next match. She’s a win away from reaching a second WTA quarterfinal in 2023. Rebecca Marino is expected to be a bigger hurdle than Parry. The Canadian’s game is tailormade for hard courts, but recent form coming to this tournament is extremely lackluster. Marino has the bigger weapons on the surface, but I’ll take the high-intense style of Mandlik here.
Prediction: Mandlik in 3
Arianne Hartono vs Panna Udvardy
Head-to-head: Hartono 1-0 Udvardy
Udvardy recorded a statement win in her opening match by eliminating second seed Tatjana Maria. What made the victory even sweeter was that it was her first win in seven matches. It was long overdue. But she doesn’t have good memories of playing Arianne Hartono. She lost to the Dutchwoman in an ITF event in Orlando in February, the tournament preceding her freak ankle injury she picked up in Merida. Hartono earned an excellent win over the feisty Japanese veteran Misaki Doi, taking almost two and a half hours to seal a three-set victory. It was her 10th win in her last 13 matches, and it would be foolhardy to oppose that stat.
Prediction: Hartono in 3
Xinyu Wang vs Himeno Sakatsume
Head-to-head: first meeting
Playing as a Top 40 player for the first time, China’s Xinyu Wang toppled Jil Teichmann in straight sets. The Swiss lefty served for the first set and even had a set point, but her inability to close it out exemplified her current struggles. Wang will be difficult to stop from here. Sakatsume is a 22-year-old Japanese qualifier who is a solid Top 200 player. At the start of May, she won her biggest ITF title at W80 in Gifu. Sakatsume also scored a high-profile win over an established Tour-level opponent on the lower tier, beating Jennifer Brady in Granby. So when the stakes are high she is capable of rising to the occasion, and there is no better stage than in her home country. But Wang is not a Top 40 player by accident. The gulf in form and success will be on display.
Prediction: Wang in 2
Zhu Lin vs Moyuka Uchijima
Head-to-head: Uchijima 1-0 Lin
Lin lost to Uchijima in straight sets in a singles rubber at the Billie Jean King Cup last year. So that defeat could play in back of her mind. The Chinese player is the ultimate change this week. She enters this tournament as the top seed and in vastly better form than anybody else. She has made drastic improvements in her return game and she’ll look to exploit Uchijima’s flaws quite efficiently, particularly on her second serve.
Prediction: Lin in 2