Serena v Osaka: Power-hitters clash in blockbuster Australian Open semifinal

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When the Australian Open draw was made on February 5, the second half of the ladies’s singles draw attracted intrigue. And because the matches got here and went, and as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams went about their enterprise dominating the tennis courtroom, it was clear that it was not going to be a matter of ‘if,’ however quite ‘when’ the 2 titans of girls’s tennis meet in the semi-final.

Sure there was the prospect of World No 2 Simona Halep – a title contender in her personal proper – disrupting the narrative by defeating Williams in the quarterfinal – you can argue that it was an ‘upset’ if the Romanian did win that match.

But definitely it could have denied one other thrilling chapter in this most respectful rivalry between a legend and an apprentice as soon as dubbed the ‘Next Serena’; the 2 most recognisable tennis gamers on the planet at this time.

“If it happens, then I’m sure a lot of people will be excited,” Osaka had mentioned earlier than Williams performed Halep on Tuesday.

And when Williams took to Rod Laver Arena and beat Halep in what was, by her personal admission, the perfect match she performed thus far in this event. It assured that the fourth clash between Williams and Osaka – the second ever at a Grand Slam (the primary was when Osaka received the US Open title in 2018) – got here at a time when each have hit their stride.

The solely disappointment for followers is that they won’t get the ultimate that they’d hoped to see, however they’ll get a semi-final they wished when the draw was made.

Heavy hitters

In most respects, each their video games are related. The 39-year-old Williams has lengthy been probably the most highly effective gamers on tour. She has a giant serve and equally massive groundstrokes that complement her all-round attacking sport that has seen her win an Open Era document 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

Osaka in the meantime, grew up modelling her personal skill-set based mostly on the participant she has idolised from an early age.

So far each have received 79 per cent factors on their first serves. And the nice and cozy Melbourne situations anticipated on Thursday, aided by the quick Australian Open courts – will merely propel the hard-hitting duo.

Osaka leads 2-1 head-to-head

The first time they met was in the primary spherical of the 2018 Miami Open. Williams was taking part in in solely her second event since returning to the tour after giving start to a child woman. Osaka received that tie 6-3, 6-2 towards a clearly rusty American.

They met once more, six months later in the controversial US Open closing, which Osaka once more received in straight units.

Williams pulled one again in Toronto in 2019, profitable 6-3, 6-4.

Osaka unbeaten after reaching quarterfinals at majors

So far, the 23-year-old Japanese participant has reached the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam thrice – on the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open and 2020 US Open. She went on to win the title on every event.

She’ll hope to proceed in that vein to earn her fourth title, however she has by no means confronted a Serena working at such a high-level.

Williams chasing her twenty fourth

For all her achievements and historic successes, Williams has now entered a fourth 12 months in her pursuit of Margaret Court’s all-time document of most Grand Slam singles titles.

Williams overtook Steffi Graf’s Open Era document of twenty-two main wins when she received the 2017 Australian Open title – beating elder sister Venus in the ultimate.

She went on maternity depart after that and returned to the tour over a 12 months later. Her starvation for the elusive twenty fourth Slam hasn’t diminished, and he or she’s been near attaining it 4 occasions.

In 2018, she reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals, dropping to Angelique Kerber and Osaka respectively. A 12 months later, she reached the ultimate of the identical majors, dropping to Halep (Wimbledon) and Bianca Andreescu (US Open).

Now she’s gunning for a fifth closing.

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