MELBOURNE, Australia – Down 0-2, 30-40,  Naomi Osaka (JPN) was quickly facing an uphill battle in the semifinals against 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
Osaka crawled her way out to avoid a two-break deficit but was still struggling to find her groove. She quickly went down 40-15 in the next game but an 89 mph forehand, followed by a swing volley, finally put pressure on Williams. Four points later, she evened the match at two games apiece.
The momentum started to swing. Although Osaka recorded her worst serving statistics of the tournament, making just 36% of her first serves with three double faults, she found a way to hold on after getting broken in the opening game.
Osaka, who frequently mentions how Williams was her childhood idol, admitted to having nerves to start the match. She finally settled down after getting her second break of the match to go up 4-2.
From 2-2 in the first set, Osaka won 10 of the next 13 games to lead 6-3, 4-2. However, Williams then won the next two games to level the second set.
Osaka was seemingly unfazed by the pressure of the moment. She won the final eight points of the match behind 3 winners and an ace to advance with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Osaka will play for her 4th-career Grand Slam title on Saturday in Melbourne.
- Osaka has won 20-straight matches, including 13-straight major wins
- Williams won the title in Australia the 8 previous times she reached the semifinals. That streak ended today.
- Osaka hit 8 more winners and 3 more aces than Williams
- Osaka’s head-to-head with Williams moves to 3-1
From the Stringing Room
Naomi uses POLYTOUR STRIKE string and strings the mains at 53 lbs. and crosses at 56 lbs.
Official Partner of the Australian Open
The Yonex Stringing Team is the Official Stringing Team of the Australian Open for the 6th-straight year. The 2021 team consists of 26 stringers from six countries and is dedicated to providing the world standard of racquet stringing and is supported by the Made-in-Japan PRECISION 9.0 and ProTech 8 Deluxe machines that excel in precision stringing.