Naomi Osaka once again proved a road too far for Serena Williams in her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title. On Friday, on the Rod Laver court, the 22-year-old beat her 39-year-old opponent 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes.
Serena started in a confident mood, breaking Osaka to take a 2-0 lead but Osaka regrouped the next five games. Serena held serve for 5-3 but Osaka served out the first set 6-3 in 39 minutes.
Osaka broke Serena at the beginning of the second set, forcing her opponent into errors with big and deep forehands. With the crowd allowed back into Melbourne Park, record-chasing Serena fed off their energy to level the second game at 4-4 but she destroyed all that good work by immediately handing the initiative and momentum back to Osaka with a double fault. Osaka served the match out at the first attempt and she will meet either Karolina Muchova or Jennifer Brady in Saturday’s final.
Speaking afterwards, Osaka said “I hit a lot of unforced errors in the first few games. I was really nervous and scared in the beginning and then I eased my way into it. For me the biggest thing is to just have fun.”
Osaka added that she wishes either Muchova or Brady will be jittery in the final when she will be chasing her fourth Grand Slam title -what will be her second Australian Open title after the first which she won in 2019.