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      Australian Open: Osaka to face Brady in final

      0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 19, 2021
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      Osaka Naomi of Japan hits a return during the women's singles semifinal between Osaka Naomi of Japan and Serena Williams of the United States at Australian Open in Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 18, 2021. (Photo by Hu Jingchen/Xinhua)

      Japan's Naomi Osaka will face Jennifer Brady from the U.S. in the Australian Open final on Saturday, after the pair powered through their semifinal match-ups.

      As fans returned to the AO on Thursday, Osaka dispatched tennis great Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-4, while Brady sealed a nail biting victory over Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

      It took Brady five match points to finish a defiant Muchova, who having beat World No. 1 Ash Barty to reach the semifinals, walked away with her best Grand Slam result to date.

      It will be Brady's first time in a Grand Slam final, with the No. 22 seed saying she hoped to control her nerves and focus on winning points.

      "There's going to be moments...when I'm thinking 'wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title' but it's just about trying to control the emotions," Brady said.

      Across the net from her will be a much more experienced Osaka who has emerged victorious from all three of her Grand Slam final appearances -- winning the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020 and Australian Open two years ago in 2019.

      The pair met at last year's U.S. Open semifinal, with Osaka going on to win the tournament. However the Japanese star described the match as one of her most memorable and "super high quality throughout."

      Osaka said she would be looking to capitalise on her experience, and on her opponents nerves, and putting everything she has into the fight.

      "I think I fight the hardest in the finals. I think that's where you sort of set yourself apart," Osaka said. "For me, I have this mentality that people don't remember the runners up. You might, but the winner's name is the one that's engraved."

      Earlier in the day, Osaka showed why she is one of the greatest modern players, outclassing Williams in a surprisingly one-sided match lasting just one hour and 15 minutes.

      Williams racked up more errors and landed less winners, as well as securing just two of seven break points, compared with Osaka who capitalised on all four of her breakpoint opportunities.

      "I had a lot of forehand unforced errors. It was a big error day for me today," Williams said.

      Osaka gave the 23-time Grand Slam winner a shot at redemption towards the end of the second, delivering a double fault to drop a break and ease the pressure on herself. However another double fault by Williams in the very next game helped Osaka take the break back and serve for the match.

      Always one to attract the spotlight, no matter the situation, the 39-year-old Williams cut a post-match press conference short when she became emotional after the topic of retirement was raised.

      Williams was asked if a heartfelt gesture she made to the Australian crowd as she exited the stadium was her way of saying farewell.

      "I don't know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone," Williams said, before ending the interview.

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