Naomi Osaka is into the Australian Open final after defeating Serena Williams 6-3, 6-4. Osaka started behind 0-2 in the first set, but admitted once she got rid of the nerves it was all dominance from her side of the court. Osaka's serve was the story of the night and allowed her to stay ahead for much of the match.
This will be Osaka's second Australian Open final and fourth career Grand Slam final. Osaka is 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, winning the 2018 and 2020 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.
This was Williams' 40th Grand Slam Semi-Final, where she has a 33-7 record.
Osaka is likely the favorite heading into the final, as No. 1 ranked Ashleigh Barty was upset by No. 25 Karolina Muchova. The other semifinal match is between Muchova and No. 22 Jennifer Brady.
Tennis fans were in for a treat on Wednesday night as they got to watch two of the best in the sport fight it out at the Australian Open with a lot on the line. The semifinal match was a battle between arguably the best to ever do it, No. 10 seed Serena Williams, and the next generation's tennis star, No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka.
After the win, Osaka discussed facing someone who she grew up watching and admitted it can be intimidating. It was not lost on her the significance of defeating a legend. "I was a little kid watching her play, and just to be on the court playing against her, for me is a dream ... It was an honor to play her," Osaka said on the court at Rod Laver Arena after the match.
She also joked that her diet might be to thank for the win, saying that she was eating Japanese food before matches, but went with Greek food last night. "Maybe I should keep eating Greek food," she said.
In a breach of COVID-19 protocol, but an expression of sportsmanship and appreciation for the high level of tennis in their match and careers, Osaka and Williams shared a hug after the match. While heading off the court, Williams addressed the crowd, putting her hand up while she lingered looking at the fans.
Williams had more than just a spot in the final on the line. She was looking to tie Margaret Court's record for most career grand slam single titles, currently sitting one shy at 23, but was unable to advance to the final. Since 2017, Williams has advanced to four Grand Slam finals, but has come up short each time.