Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens, the past two U.S. Open champions, will make their career debuts at the WTA Finals by playing each other in their first match in Singapore on Monday.
The initial stage of the eight-player WTA Finals field is a round-robin competition with two teams of four players. The two players with the best record from each round-robin group advance to next Saturday's semifinals.
It has been a whirlwind six weeks for Osaka, a dual Japanese-American citizen who plays under the Japanese flag, since winning the U.S. Open.
Her Open victory -- the second title of her career with the first coming at Indian Wells in April -- was marred by controversy as opponent Serena Williams initiated a number of run-ins with umpire Carlos Ramos during the match.
Two of the most important titles of the season, such as the Californian tournament and US Open won at her age can not be just a coincidence. Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens can be alternatives to Serena, but they have never fully convinced, in order to be able to aspire to that role.
It takes a lot more. The problems for Osaka come now, with notoriety. Managing fame, success and pressure will be the most important challenge for the continuation of 2018 and for 2019. She needs rigor, coldness, lucidity and solidity.
Skills that not all twenties can have. The version close to perfection seen in New York was a good sign. Now the Japanese will have to deal with all the rivals of the WTA Tour, and see if her star will be able to take the baton of Serena Williams.