After two weeks and countless dramas on and off the court, the Australian Open finalists have been decided.
Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady will meet in Saturday’s women’s final while Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev face off on Sunday to decide the men’s champion.
Here’s our recap of the Australian Open semi-finals and the moments that mattered.
The old and the new generations collided on Thursday afternoon with Serena Williams falling to Naomi Osaka in straight sets. In hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena, Osaka looked in control as she returned Williams’ groundstrokes with interest. The 23-year-old is one of the rare players who can dictate terms against Williams, forcing the American veteran to play behind the baseline.
It was an almost flawless match for Osaka after a shaky beginning, dropping just seven games en route to her second Australian Open final.
Osaka now leads 3-2 in career clashes with Williams, one of the rare players on the tour to have a positive record against the all-time great.
The 39-year-old has reigned supreme over the Melbourne Park courts for close to two decades now, but that elusive eighth Australian Open singles title may never arrive with retirement potentially on the cards.
A success on Saturday will see Osaka maintain a perfect record in Grand Slam finals. Despite never losing a final, Osaka was circumspect when asked about the Australian Open decider.
“I think I fight the hardest in the finals. I think that’s where you sort of set yourself apart,” Osaka stated in her post-match press conference.
In the second semi-final, Jennifer Brady ensured an American would still feature in the final, triumphing over Karolina Muchova in three hard-fought sets.
Some of the best tennis seen at the Australian Open this year was on display in the final set of the match, with Brady eventually holding serve and collapsing to the ground in celebration after an epic 11 minute final game.
Speaking about the final on Saturday, Brady admitted she was in for a big test against Naomi Osaka.
“it’ll be a really tough match … we had a tough match at the US Open semi-finals [last year]”.
Both Osaka and Brady have been enjoying the best form of their careers in the last six months, with Osaka holding a slender 2-1 head-to-head lead.
The more things change on the men’s side, the more they stay the same after Novak Djokovic once again made it through to the Australian Open final.
The world number 1 got through his semi-final against Aslan Karatsev in style, winning in straight sets, although the score line wasn’t a fair reflection of the unseeded Russian’s fight.
However, it was the undeniable Serb who found a way, yet again, to crush his opponent’s momentum just as a challenge looked to be mounting.
The muscle injury which hampered the seven time Australian Open champion throughout his third and fourth round matchups wasn’t an issue against Karatsev, as he moved around the court freely, recording 17 aces in just 14 service games in the process.
Djokovic will have an added day of rest compared to his opponent, which will play a vital role in ensuring the top seed is fully fit on Sunday.
Standing in Djokovic’s way will be Daniil Medvedev, who took care of a weary Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets to make his maiden Australian Open final. In the only singles match of day 12, the towering Russian controlled the match from start to finish in one of the most dominant wins of the tournament.
Medvedev now has a 20 match winning streak dating back to the end of last season, and has the capacity to force Djokovic into a style of play he doesn’t often employ.
The Russian has been a thorn in the side of Djokovic. The 25-year-old has a remarkable record against the Serb, winning three of their last four matches.
With 12 straight wins for Medvedev against top ten opponents, fans can expect an enduring match with long rallies to decide the men’s singles champion on Sunday night.