Naomi Osaka Powers Past Pliskova To Reach Maiden Australian Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Powers Past Pliskova To Reach Maiden Australian Open Final

The 20-year-old is now on a 13-match winning streak in grand slam tournaments.

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World No.4 Naomi Osaka has become the first Japanese player in history to reach an Australian Open final after blasting her way past Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, on Thursday.

 

The reigning US Open champion produced a strong display in what was a roller-coaster clash against Pliskova, who was on a 10-match winning streak entering into the Melbourne semi-final. Against the world No.8, Osaka fired 15 aces and 56 winners past her. Furthermore, she claimed 81% of the points behind her first serve and saved six out of the eight break points she faced in the match.

“I kind of expected it a little because I played her so many times and honestly, she beat me more than I have beaten her. I was expecting a hard battle. Osaka commented about her latest win over the Czech.
“I just told myself to regroup in the third set and no matter what, just try to serve as hard as I can.” She added.

Playing for a place in a grand slam final, it was inevitable that nerves would play a factor early on. Nevertheless, it was Osaka’s powerful hitting that prevailed against her opponent throughout the first set. Three games into the match, the Japanese No.1 secured her first break for a 2-1 lead after hitting back-to-back backhand winners down the line. Firmly in control of proceedings, Osaka continued to pile the pressure onto her opponent with a series of baseline exchanges. Easing to a double break for a 5-2 lead with the help of a Pliskova double fault.  She went on to close out the set with two consecutive aces.

Heading into the clash, Osaka has won 58 consecutive matches after clinching the opening set. However, an elevation in Pliskova’s game saw her start to trouble her rival as they exchanged breaks at the start of set number two. Pliskova’s determination was similar to that of what she shown against Serena Williams two days ago after coming back from 1-5 in the decider. Matching Osaka game-by-game, it would be just one patchy service game that proved pivotal. As Osaka served 4-5 down, a series of errors unexpectedly handed the Czech a trio of chances to take the match into a decider. She capitalized on her first opportunity with the help of a deep forehand shot to draw an error from Osaka.

Following her disappointing end to the second set, Osaka went out guns blazing in the decider with the help of a 10-point winning streak to nudge ahead 3-1. Battling for a spot in her second consecutive grand slam final, she earned her first match point with the help of a forehand cross-court winner. Victory was then sealed with an ace down the centre of the court, which was originally called out. However, a successful hawk-eye challenge from Osaka reversed the verdict. Prompting delight and relief on her face.

“Just the experience of playing matchers like this.” Osaka replied when asked if her US  Open triumph helped her stayed calm. “To be honest, I was so scared serving second serves, I was like ‘oh my god please.’ Somehow I made it. I guess that’s experience, I don’t know.”

Awaiting Osaka in the final will be another Czech in the shape of Petra Kvitova. Kvitova downed Danielle Collins in straight sets earlier in the day to record her best grand slam run since winning the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. The upcoming meeting will be the first between the two on the tour.

At stake in the final will also be the world No.1 ranking for the winner. Osaka has already ensured that she will enter the world’s top three when the standings are updated on Monday.  Becoming the first Japanese player – man or woman – to do so in the history of the sport. Should Osaka clinch the No.1 spot, she would become the youngest player to do so since Caroline Wozniacki back in 2010.

21-year-old Osaka is the youngest player to reach back-to-back grand slam finals since Ana Ivanovic back in 2008.

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Naomi Osaka Dedicates Latest Grand Slam Win To Those Affected By Hardship

The tennis star has issued a statement to her fans in Japan and around the world following her latest triumph.

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Naomi Osaka hopes her Australian Open victory will help inspire tennis fans around the world as she aims to continue her surge in form on the Tour.

 

The world No.2 clinched her fourth Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park on Saturday after defeating Jennifer Brady in straight sets to clinch her 21st consecutive win on the Tour. At the tournament she also scored wins over former world No.1 players Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams. She is the first woman to have won her first four major finals played since Monica Seles during the 1990s.

In the wake of her latest triumph, the 23-year-old issued a statement through her management company in which she said her win is dedicated to those still recovering from the 2011 Japan earthquake.

“I would like to thank everyone in Japan for their continued warm support,” she said. “Since I heard there was another large quake in Japan recently, I also want to dedicate this win to those whose lives have still yet to be fully put back together following the ravages of the Great East Earthquake and Tsunami.”

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated the country on March 11th with more than 15,000 people being killed. It also caused the worst nuclear accident in Japan’s history after a reactor released radioactive material. Last week a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the same region in what scientists described as an ‘aftershock’ from 10 years ago.

Continuing her tribute to those who have faced difficult times, Osaka has also dedicated her victory to those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Australian Open took place under strict rules with all players having to go through a 14-day quarantine upon aerial into the country.

“Seeing as we are still contending with the coronavirus on a daily basis, I would like to dedicate this victory to the people around the world who are doing what they can to help us escape its shadow,” she continued in her statement.
“Although there has been a lot of sad news lately regarding the coronavirus and earthquakes, I think that we need to remember the importance of life and have an open heart to help one another in times like these.”

Given her recent dominance on the Tour, Osaka has been backed for even more future glory in the future with Mats Wilander saying she will win at least 10 major titles. Something has only ever been achieved by five women in the Open Era. However, Osaka insists that she will not be thinking too far ahead.

“I like to take things not big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment,” she explains.
It’s an honour that he said that, of course. But I don’t want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations.
“I know that the people that I’m playing against are the best players in the world, and, you know, if my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come.
“But for right now I can only control what I can control, and that’s working hard and giving myself opportunities.”

Osaka is only the fourth active player to have won a quartet of major titles after the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters.

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Naomi Osaka Downs Brady For Fourth Grand Slam Title

Naomi Osaka won her second Australian Open title with a straight sets win over Jennifer Brady.

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Naomi Osaka (@BJKCup - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka won her fourth grand slam title after a 6-4 6-3 win over Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final.

 

Osaka was too good for the first time grand slam finalist as she prevailed in a relatively comfortable straight sets win.

The victory means it is her fourth grand slam title, second Australian Open victory and now 21 wins in a row.

It was easy to tell who was the more experienced player under these circumstances as Osaka settled into the match quickly with two aces contributing to a love hold.

As for the American, she needed a bit longer to settle in a grand slam final with a 29% first serve percentage in her first two service games.

That is not going to get it done in a grand slam final as two double faults in the fourth game handed the break to the 2019 champion for a 3-1 lead.

However the American didn’t get to her first grand slam final without a bit of resilience and some nice forehands mixed with some sloppy Osaka play , saw Brady break straight back.

As the forehand gained consistent power and shape, the backhand was also good in attacking situations as she forced the third seed to use some difficult angles from static court positions.

This match turned into an enjoyable contest with Brady hitting some amazing shots to get the Rod Laver Arena crowd into the match.

After a gritty hold from break point down, Osaka used her champion qualities to rally from 40-15 down to break and take the first set 6-4 after an easy forehand into the net from Brady.

The momentum was now firmly with Osaka as she looked more and more confident on return as she continued to use the angles and deep shot-making to force the errors from Brady.

Although the American tried to be aggressive as possible, there was no control when constructing points against a dominant Osaka.

Two breaks of serve in quick and convincing fashion saw a 4-0 lead as a second Australian Open title was in sight.

A mini fight back, saw Brady restore some competitiveness in the contest, with some good serving and controlled aggression from the baseline as the score was reduced to 4-2.

However, unable to take advantage of a half-opportunity in the next game, it wasn’t to be Brady’s day.

Winning two of the next three games, a forehand unforced error from Brady sealed Osaka’s fourth grand slam title and second Australian Open.

It is now 21 victories in a row since the Cincinnati tournament in New York last year.

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