The 2024 Australian Open is planning several charity matches during the opening week of qualifying matches. The first one pits two Grand Slam champions on the comeback trail, Emma Raducanu, the 2021 US Open Champion, and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, against each other.
Raducanu and Osaka have never played each other. Both have 1-1 records in 2024 after long layoffs. Raducanu returns from three surgeries that sidelined her for most of 2023, and Naomi Osaka was out of tennis for the entire 2023 season on maternity leave. Raducanu earned a spot in the Australian Open main draw a few days ago after American Lauren Davis withdrew with a shoulder injury.
For fans nearby, the cost to attend the match is just $20. Proceeds benefit the Australian Tennis Foundation which uses "tennis as a vehicle to reduce social disadvantage and increase social cohesion" for children.
Which player, Emma Raducanu or Naomi Osaka, is more likely to win a Grand Slam in 2024?
Women's tennis has a great problem on its hands. There are only four Grand Slams per year and many more than four women capable of winning one. Adding a healthy Raducanu and Osaka into the mix, there are at least ten players capable of hoisting a Grand Slam trophy this year, and that is a conservative estimate.
The frontrunners would be Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, and Elena Rybakina, the top four players in the world who have already won Grand Slams. Women's tennis is so deep with Osaka, Raducanu, and Angelique Kerber back after long layoffs, and don't sleep on Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur, Elina Svitolina, defending Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, and a healthy Jennifer Brady.
In the meantime, this exhibition match between Raducanu and Osaka will be a good test for both players who are trying to gain match-play experience and endurance before the season gets in full swing.