Naomi Osaka ended Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in a storm of power hitting on Thursday, humbling the American great 6-3 6-4 to reach her second Australian Open final.
In a rematch of their tumultuous 2018 US Open decider, Osaka underlined her status as the new queen of women’s tennis and soaked up the cheers from the Rod Laver Arena crowd as fans returned to the Grand Slam after a five-day lockdown.
Three-times Grand Slam champion Osaka will meet the winner of Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova in the title match.
“I did a lot of unforced errors in the first few games. I was really nervous and scared in the beginning and then I sort of eased my way into it,” said Osaka on court.
“It’s just always an honour to play her and I just didn’t want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best.”
Williams broke Osaka in the opening game, but the Japanese third seed reeled off five straight games in a devastating display before closing out the set with a blazing forehand winner.
Osaka took Williams’ serve in the first game of the second set and would not let up until she wobbled with three double-faults to allow the American to break back to 4-4.
But Williams repaid the favour with a double-fault on the next service game giving Osaka three break points.
Osaka converted the first then closed out the match when Williams thudded into the net.