Sunday, 28 February, 2021

Naomi Osaka vs. Jennifer Brady in Australian Open final preview

Naomi Osaka hits a return against Jennifer Brady during the Australian Open final at Melbourne Park on Saturday. | AFP-JIJI Naomi Osaka hits a return against Jennifer Brady during the Australian Open final at Melbourne Park on Saturday. | AFP-JIJI
Deanna Wagner | 20 February, 2021, 15:18

Osaka, who humbled Serena Williams in the semifinals, said she had improved her mental strength with Fissette and her team after a disappointing start to last year's pandemic-affected season.

In a recent interview, Tommy Haas talked about the Japanese and also about other topics. "I think she was just coming up, maybe inside the top 200, and I remember playing her", Brady said.

"It's definitely going to be really tough if I do play her".

"I think she had really high hopes, she had a really good start".

Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Jennifer Brady in the women's singles final at the Australian Open. "I think I fight the hardest in the finals". That earned a break point - convert that, and she would serve for the opening set. I think that's where you sort of set yourself apart. "Once you become too comfortable, I think that's when you're in trouble", she said.

Osaka, whose major wins have come at the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open and 2020 US Open, goes into the match as the heavy favourite against 25-year-old Brady.

Fissette said Osaka had opened up about her disappointment in Australia after the loss in Spain and had continued to be frank about her feelings and nerves ever since.

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Osaka has won both their matches since with their rivalry hitting new heights in the second of those, last year's epic US Open semi-final. If she got to 3-0, it could have been 4-0, then 5-0. The US Open champion is undefeated in three Grand Slam finals and in fact has never lost a major match from the quarterfinals on.

The pair combined for 70 winners in a two hour, eight-minute skirmish that featured just two breaks of serve. The match popped with adrenalized rallies giving us a glimpse of a possible future rivalry-and now they meet again. I mean, there is no doubt, athletes, not just tennis player.

"I play a little bit different now", said Osaka, who is riding an unbeaten 20-match winning streak stretching 12 months.

Unquestionably, Brady is a risky player who has the weapons to hold serve and pressure Osaka.

"But there are going to be moments where I'm going to be thinking "wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title".

Osaka is the more experienced and explosive player. There's a certain hard-headedness that comes with not winning a Slam before.

Osaka has a flawless 3-0 record in the finals of Majors, and starts as a heavy favorite to extend that against Brady. She will face the pressure to perform, and Brady can take advantage of this by starting off strong.