Osaka charges into Australian Open semi-finals

Osaka charges into Australian Open semi-finals

 

Naomi Osaka used her experience of previous struggles to swiftly dispatch Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei and seal her place in the Australian Open semi-final; she will meet the winner of the match between history-chasing Serena Williams and Simona Halep

Last Updated: 16/02/21 8:12am

Japan's Naomi Osaka reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open where she will play Serena Williams or Simona Halep Japan's Naomi Osaka reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open where she will play Serena Williams or Simona Halep
Japan’s Naomi Osaka reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open where she will play Serena Williams or Simona Halep

Naomi Osaka crushed the artistry of Hsieh Su-wei as she charged into the Australian Open semi-finals, where she will await the winner of the match between Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

Osaka, the 2019 champion, stretched her winning streak to 19 consecutive matches, as the Japanese ace used her experience of previous struggles to swiftly dispatch Chinese Taipei’s Su-wei 6-2 6-2.

Her win over her unorthodox opponent provided a stark contrast to her victory over the same player en route to the title in 2019, when she had been forced to rally from a set and a break behind.

And her 66-minute success will also came as a welcome relief after the tumult of the previous round, when she saved two match points before squeezing past Garbine Muguruza.

Osaka said in her on-court interview: “I’m really happy with how I played – every time I play her it’s such a battle and despite the score it was another battle for me.

“It makes me a bit more calm, just knowing that even though my back was severely against the wall I still had opportunities.

“Even today when I had two match points and she saved them both, normally I feel like I would have panicked but today I was pretty calm.”

The world No 3 is on a 19-match winning streak (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images) The world No 3 is on a 19-match winning streak (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
The world No 3 is on a 19-match winning streak (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Osaka’s reward will be a semi-final against either Serena Williams or Simona Halep, the pair having a rematch of the 2019 Wimbledon final in the evening session on Rod Laver Arena.

“I always watch Serena’s matches, anyway,” said Osaka, who has never failed to win a Grand Slam after making the quarter-finals. “Definitely going to be real fun.”

During her press conference, Osaka said: “I keep the TV on the tennis, right? But if there’s an interesting match to watch, I’ll watch it. It’s just kind of interesting to watch her form. For me, I grew up watching Serena, Federer, Nadal. It’s just more of a habit than anything. I feel like everyone in the tournament watches her.”

Osaka is aiming to win her fourth Grand Slam and second title in Melbourne Osaka is aiming to win her fourth Grand Slam and second title in Melbourne
Osaka is aiming to win her fourth Grand Slam and second title in Melbourne

The third seed might have been forgiven for anticipating another difficult day when she struggled to hold her serve in the opening game of the match.

Hsieh, at 35 the oldest player to make her debut in a Grand Slam quarter-final in the Open era, mixes spins and slices to such effect that even Osaka admitted pre-match that she often “could not fathom” her opponent’s shot selection.

But an early break settled Osaka’s nerves and she took control of the match behind an unerring first serve, seizing on a series of stray shots from her opponent to close out the opening set in 36 minutes.

Despite her dominance, Osaka will have been acutely aware of the danger of making any assumptions, with four of her five previous career meetings with Hsieh having gone to a deciding set.

An early break at the start of the second set sent Osaka closer to the line but, ever unpredictable, Hsieh rallied on the cusp of defeat, producing two superb winners to save consecutive match points, before finally succumbing to Osaka’s third opportunity.

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