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Osaka crushes Williams in stunning battle to book place in Aus Open final
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|Osaka crushes Williams in stunning battle to book place in Aus Open final by Kenyans247(1): Thu 18, February, 2021 08:32am|
Naomi Osaka rebounded from a poor start to beat Serena Williams – her idol – in straight sets to book her place in the Australian Open final.
World No. 3 Osaka beat the 23-time Grand Slam singles winner 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 15 minutes.
Later today, Novak Djokovic will try to reach his ninth final at Melbourne Park when he takes on miracle man Aslan Karatsev.
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Three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka fought back from an 0-2 hole and won five straight games, before sealing the first set 6-3 in her semi-final blockbuster clash with Serena Williams.
After being broken in the first game of the match, Osaka found her feet and stunned Williams with a superb display of powerful hitting to book her place in the Australian Open final in straight sets.
The defeat denies 39-year-old Williams the opportunity of playing for her 24th Grand Slam singles title, and repeats Osaka’s incredible victory in the 2018 US Open final, in which she beat Williams 6-2 6-4 to claim her first Grand Slam crown.
The match was billed as a clash between two of the best servers and most powerful hitters in the women’s game, with both superstars entering the long-awaited encounter in unbelievable form.
Surprisingly, both women served poorly throughout the match. Osaka landed just 43 per cent of her first serves in play, while Williams was marginally better with 46 per cent of her first serves in play.
But Osaka was nerveless at crucial moments, winning four break points from as many chances, and staving off five of Williams’ seven break point opportunities to move into her fourth Grand Slam final.
After the match, Osaka conceded she was “nervous and scared in the beginning”.
“Then I sort of eased my way into it. For me, I think the biggest thing is just having fun and it’s the first day having the crowd in a while ... it’s always an honour to play her. I just didn’t want to go out like really bad, so I just wanted to try my best.”
She added: “I don’t know if there’s any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play and just to be on the court playing against her for me is a dream.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned over the years is just like, you know, you’re competitive, you’re playing against another competitor. That itself is the funnest part because tennis is a game.”
He just wanted to make the top 100. Now Aslan is facing world No.1 Djokovic
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Osaka got off to a horror start, making just two first serves in her opening game — as well as a double fault — as Serena Williams capitalised on two break points to take an early lead over her young opponent. Williams held comfortably in her next game in what was a perfect start for the 10th seed.
The 23-year-old Osaka appeared to settle her nerves in the next game, only to make a pair of errors — including another rare double fault — to hand Williams a break point, before fighting her way back to hold.
That began a run of five-straight games for Osaka, as Williams made a series of unforced errors, regularly sending forehand shots long. Osaka closed out the set 6-3.
Remarkably, Osaka landed just 36 per cent of her first serves in the first set, compared to 48 per cent for Williams - both significantly below their tournament averages.
But after a wayward start, Osaka managed to reel off 9 winners to 11 unforced errors in the set, while Williams managed just 4 winners to 16 unforced errors for the opening set.
Williams was broken in the first game of the second set, during which she smashed a superb forehand winner and roared: “Make a shot!”
She let out another roar after the next point, but her display of emotion didn’t manage to change the balance as Osaka broke then quickly held for a 0-2 lead.
Like Osaka, Williams lifted her serving level in the second set. But unlike the third seed, Williams was simply failing to return Osaka’s first serves. And with Osaka landing 60 per cent of her first serves, that was enough to keep her on track as both players held comfortably.
That pattern continued for multiple games, with Williams making it 3-4 but still that early break down.
Then consecutive Osaka double faults two made the score 0-40, handing Williams three break points. Osaka saved two, but ANOTHER double fault gifted Williams the break, seemingly out of nowhere.
It was Osaka’s fifth double fault of the set - compared to just 12 in total for the tournament before this match.
But Osaka immediately bounced back, hitting three winners and profiting off a Williams double fault to break back to love.
That made it 5-4 for Osaka with a place in the final on her racquet. She confidently served out the game to win 6-3 6-4, before the pair shared an emotional embrace.
Osaka now boasts a 3-1 record over Williams, including winning both meetings at Grand Slams.
It is a gutting blow to Williams, who this tournament was playing perhaps her best tennis in the years since she last won a Grand Slam - at the Australian Open in 2017, while still pregnant with daughter Olympia. At 39, her historic pursuit of 24 Grand Slam singles crowns now appears to be slipping out of reach.
Meanwhile, world No.3 Osaka is hunting her second Australian Open crown and her fourth Grand Slam in four straight years, which would see her overtake Simona Halep and move into second on the world rankings.
Osaka will enter Saturday’s final as an overwhelming favourite against either 22nd seed Jennifer Brady or 25th seed Karolina Muchova.
AUSSIE DUO INTO SEMIS!
So far on the Aussie Open trophy count, we’ve got: a SEVENTH quad wheelchair singles crown for Dylan Alcott. He paired with fellow Australian Heath Davidson to claim the quad doubles crown - their fourth straight.
But things arne’t finished there. Sam Stosur and Matt Ebden today reached the semi-finals of the mixed doubles competition after beating Hayley Carter (USA) and Sander Gille (Belgium) 6-3 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
Another pair of Aussies - Marc Polmans and Storm Sanders - today lost their semi-final against sixth-seeds Czech Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram of the USA 6-3 6-3.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2021 – DAY 11 – ORDER OF PLAY
Rod Laver Arena
Hayley Carter (USA) / Sander Gille (BEL) v Sam Stosur (AUS) / Matthew Ebden (AUS) 3-6 2-6
Not before 2pm
Naomi Osaka (JPN)  v Serena Williams (USA)  6-3 6-4.
Karolina Muchova (CZE)  v Jennifer Brady (USA) 
Not before 7:30pm
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Aslan Karatsev (RUS)
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