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Aussie Open: Osaka eyes fourth Grand Slam title

Naomi Osaka has never lost a Grand Slam final and the Japanese-American will be keen on maintaining that tradition when she meets Jennifer Brady in the final of the Australian Open on Saturday. Brady is looking forward to winning her first Slam but Osaka wants to make it the number four title. Osaka is currently enjoying a 20-match winning streak, with her last defeat on February 7, 2020.

She sealed her place in Saturday’s showpiece with a straight-sets victory over seven-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams. The Japanese star punished an error-strewn display from Williams to prevail 6-3 6-4, ending the 39-year-old’s quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title. Osaka has been in imperious form throughout the last fortnight, surrendering the solitary set en route to the final, surviving two match points against two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza in the last 16.

Brady enjoyed serene progress to the quarter-finals, registering four consecutive straight-sets wins before recovering from a set down to defeat her compatriot Jessica Pegula. This saw the 25-year-old seal her spot in a second successive Grand Slam semi-final, where she came through a gruelling threeset battle against Ashleigh Barty’s conqueror Karolina Muchova. Osaka prevailed in two of the pair’s three meetings, but their most recent showdown proved to be defining for both players. They locked horns in the semi-finals of last year’s US Open, as Osaka came through a pulsating three-set battle, before defeating Victoria Azarenka to capture her third Grand Slam crown.

The 2019 Australian Open champion has never failed to lift a Grand Slam tournament when progressing to the quarter-finals – a record she’ll be desperate to maintain in Melbourne. “I have this mentality that people don’t remember the runnersup. You might, but the winner’s name is the one that’s engraved. I think I fight the hardest in the finals.

I think that’s where you sort of set yourself apart,” Osaka said of the final. “I played [Jennifer] Brady in the semis of the US Open. It is easily one of my most memorable matches. I think it was just super high quality throughout.

It’s not really surprising at all to see her in a final. “I never really look at stats or achievements or anything like that. I feel like maybe later in my life I’ll appreciate the things that I’ve done more. “As of right now, I feel like I’m chasing records that can’t be broken no matter how hard I try. I think it’s the human trait of not being satisfied.”

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