MELBOURNE, January 24: US Open champion Naomi Osaka staved off a fightback from Karolina Pliskova to reach her maiden Australian Open final with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win on Thursday setting up a title clash with double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Osaka burnished her reputation as one of the cleanest hitters of the ball in women’s tennis by smacking winners almost at will from both her forehand and backhand under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena which was closed due to extreme heat.
“I like the heat so I was kind of sad about that… No, but like, they have the roof open and I was like, ‘oh, it’s my time to shine’,” Osaka said in an oncourt interview.
She scorched the court further with 56 winners, often going down on one knee to generate immense power often leaving Pliskova stranded.
The Czech could muster only 20, half of which came in the second set when she hung in to level the match despite the barrage of winners from her opponent.
“I mean I kind of expected (the comeback) a little… I was expecting a really hard battle,” said the Japanese, who had won once in their three previous meeting before Thursday. (Agencies)