8 things to know about Naomi Osaka ahead of the Australian Open final
Have you heard that Naomi Osaka has yet to lose a Grand Slam match from the quarterfinals on?
The most famous fact about the world’s most dominant women’s tennis player will be put to its next test in the wee hours of Saturday morning when Osaka faces former UCLA star Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final.
Osaka advanced to her second Australian final by defeating Serena Williams 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday in Melbourne. Here’s an Osaka primer ahead of her quest for her fourth Grand Slam championship.
1. Osaka’s victory over Williams was her second in as many Grand Slam matchups between the two. Osaka also beat Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final.
2. Osaka’s power game plays well on the hard courts of the Australian and U.S. opens. The 23-year-old is 42-7 in Melbourne and New York. All three of her major titles have come in the Grand Slam’s bookend events (2018 and ’20 U.S. Opens, ’19 Australian Open).
3. By contrast, Osaka has yet to advance past the third round of the French Open and Wimbledon in seven tournament appearances.
Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to advance to the Australian Open final and deny Williams’ bid for major title number 24.
4. Brady, the tournament’s 22nd seed who outlasted Karolina Muchova in her semifinal, is not the lowest seed that Osaka has faced in a Slam finals. In her U.S. Open victory last summer, Osaka defeated unseeded Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
5. To reach that final, Osaka held off Brady — who spent two years at UCLA before turning pro in 2014 — in the semis 7-6, 3-6, 6-3. This will be the fourth meeting between the two, with Osaka holding a 2-1 advantage.
6. Osaka was born in Japan and grew up on Long Island and in Florida, but Los Angeles can — and will — stake its own claim to her.
7. Osaka has an older sister, Mari, which we offer merely as an excuse to share this post-Williams-match moment:
8. We’re back to pulling all-nighters to watch the Australian Open — unless you’re in, say, Croatia or Belarus. The women’s final is scheduled for 12:30 a.m. PST Saturday and will be televised on ESPN and can be streamed on the ESPN+ app.
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