Can Ashleigh Barty manage to stop the in-form Naomi Osaka from capturing her second consecutive title?
<div><h2><span style="color:inherit;font-family:inherit;font-size:1.2em">Ashleigh Barty(1) vs. Nao</span><span style="color:inherit;font-family:inherit;font-size:1.2em">mi Osaka(4)</span></h2><p><strong>Sunday, October 6, Beijing </strong></p><p>Ashleigh Barty still hasn´t been at her best. She´s still struggling to find her best tennis, laboring hard in every match. But like what always marks a true Champion, the Aussie has been able to overcome these struggles and emerge victorious. This what was becoming so evident in her 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) win over Kiki Bertens in today´s semifinal. After surging to a 3-0 start by winning 12 of the opening 14 points, Barty would not relinquish that break advantage and wrap up the first set. In the second set, Bertens would mirror the world no. 1 and wrap up the second set in similar fashion. The Dutchwoman would take the first break on not one, but two occasions, which had proven to be more than enough to wrap up the earlier sets. But Barty had other ideas, breaking back immediately to 1-2, and then breaking Bertens serving for the match at 4-5. In a match where the most aggressive player tended to win the points, the 23-year old hung tough and came back from an 0-3 start in the deciding set tiebreak. She would also have to save a match point on the Dutchwoman´s serve before wrapping up a hard-earned 2h19m victory.</p><p>Another grueling contest is by all means next to guaranteed, as former world no. 1 Naomi Osaka awaits in the final. The Japanese superstar has come to life post the US Open, taking home her namesake tournament without dropping a set. Naomi´s continued in that rich vein of form here in Beijing, racing to the quarterfinal without dropping a set. Being down breaks in all three sets to the undefeated Mississaugan Mammoth, the 21-year old impressively managed to end Andreescu´s 17-match win streak in 3 sets. In the semifinal, yet another streak was ended by the world no. 4, as she took down reigning champion Caroline Wozniacki who was on a 10-match Beijing streak. The Dane had looked resurgent after a tough year and made the semifinal without losing a set. Yet, Osaka was able to suffocate the excellent counterpuncher with power, taking control of the rallies and finishing with winners. Wozniacki´s forehand wing, in particular, was taken advantage of, and the Japanese star was extraordinarily poised under pressure, saving all 7 break points faced. Currently on a nine-match win streak herself, the 21-year old will come into this affair full of confidence.</p><p>This is set up to be a fantastic match between two young stars. Both have had an extraordinarily impressive season, capturing a Major title each, among other accolades. However, their current form trajectories couldn´t be more different. Whilst Barty has shown true grit to battle her way to victories despite being below her best, Osaka has found her zone after a tough few months - and is looking unstoppable right now. Whilst Barty has only been a point away from elimination, and twice coming back to win despite being at times outplayed - Osaka has been unyielding. Disregarding the 2014 meeting when Osaka was only 16 years old, the pair have split their two head-to-head meetings. Both came last year, with Barty prevailing on her favorite grassy lawns, whilst Osaka won on the fast hard courts of the Australian Open. On another faster hard court, expect the Japanese player to once again overpower the crafty Barty en route to victory. When in this kind of form, Naomi is almost unstoppable and looks set for a second consecutive title. The straight-up win for the Japanese pays a fine 1.75 and will be our investment here.</p><p><strong>Best bet: </strong>Osaka to win at 1.75 (3/4) with [<a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=155&a=6a145d2b-505f-491b-a70e-2f5f31742828&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Pinnacle</a>] 2u</p><p> </p><h2>Dominic Thiem(1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas</h2><p><strong>Saturday, October 5, Beijing </strong></p><p>Despite being under heavy scrutiny coming into this week by many, including yours truly, here Dominic Thiem stands in the final. The number 1 seed has been mightily impressive both result-wise and performance-wise, managing to oust all but one opponent in straight sets. In the semifinal against Karen Khachanov, things were looking grim early, as the Russian was clinical when the opportunity presented itself - going 3/3 on breakpoints to win the first set 6-2. Though breaking first in the second set, the power of Khachanov on return would prove to make that advantage very hard to protect. Broken twice in a row to stand at the brink of elimination, the Austrian managed to break back and edge the second set in a tight tiebreak. Once again coming from a break behind in the decider, it was the number 1 seed´s strong performance behind the first serve that proved the difference in what was the definition of a hard-fought 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 win.</p><p>Thiem´s opponent in the final will be Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek was another one coming into this week under a cloud of doubt. Having lost five straight main draw matches and in horrid form, Tsitsipas has steadied the ship somewhat. After coming through two hard-fought 3-set wins from a set down against Lajovic and Basilashvili, and a serve-battle with Isner - Alexander Zverev awaited. The German has been in woeful form himself but looked fantastic this week with three straight-set victories. In what turned out to be an incredibly topsy turvy affair, Zverev collapsed over and over again from breaks up and even squandering 3 set points in the opening breaker. The 21-year old Greek took advantage by stealing the set from the world no. 6´s clutches, and won 12 straight points to take a 3-0 lead in the second. After squandering two match points up 5-1, Tsitsipas crumbled and almost let Sascha come all the way back, but got over the line at the sixth time of asking to wrap up the 7-6, 6-4 victory. This makes the Greek´s fifth final of the year.</p><p>In a matchup between two players that have struggled mightily for form this season, it might well come down to who plays the best on the day. Taking initiative will prove crucial here, as both employ the one-handed backhand and are quite adept from the back of the court. It´s Thiem who has the advantage in form of the stronger backhand wing and supreme court coverage though, so the Greek must be on the front foot in order to have a chance to topple the Austrian. After Tsitsipas´ emergence last year, studying opponents have found that the one-hander is a weakness and one that has been exploited throughout this season.</p><p>Though Khachanov had Thiem on the ropes in the semifinal, the world no. 5 has been playing the better tennis overall throughout this week. Despite the 21-year old spending only a short time on tour, he´s already matched up against Dominic on five occasions. It´s been the Austrian emerging victorious on most occasions with a 3-2 lead, and a 2-1 lead on hard courts. An eye-catching statistic regarding Tsitsipas in finals is that he´s 3-0 on ATP250 level and 0-4 on higher levels, those losses came to the Big Three however which makes the record more understandable.</p><p>But Thiem has been there, and done that. He´s beaten top 10 opponents in finals, he´s defeated the Big Three in finals, and been able to get over the line on the bigger occasions. Tsitsipas hasn´t done that yet and comes off an emotional match that ended near midnight local time. I give the Austrian more than a 50% chance to win this matchup, even on hard court considering the form he´s shown this week, and am happy to back him as the underdog on the occasion. At a 2.05 price with Pinnacle, I´m backing Thiem to win his fourth title this season.</p><p><strong>Best bet: </strong>Thiem to win at 2.05 (21/20) with [<a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=155&a=6a145d2b-505f-491b-a70e-2f5f31742828&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Pinnacle</a>] 1.5u</p></div>