MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) – Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title came to an end in a storm of power hitting on Thursday against Naomi Osaka.
Osaka reached her second Australian Open with a 6-3 6-4 win. The three-times Grand Slam champion was cheered on by fans who returned to the Rod Laver Arena to watch the Grand Slam after a five-day lockdown.
“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.”
Though Williams had the lead in the opening game, 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.
Osaka will meet the winner of Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova in the title match.