Osaka reaches Australian Open final, closes in on No. 1 ranking

While so many previous finals have had clear-cut favorites, this one does not. A leap to the world No. 2.

As for the final, she would only say: "Naomi is on fire".

And so with Williams seemingly having injured her ankle, the 26-year-old former world No. 1, who was beaten in the 2016 Australian Open final by Germany's Angelique Kerber, came racing back. They're two of the biggest hitters, they're two players who can take the racket out of a player's hands. There are moments in the match where I thought, like, this is getting really close. This time, though, the ball will be coming from a different angle.

One thing is for sure: No matter which player leaves Laver carrying the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, tennis fans are assured a win. It will depend on how aggressive they are mentally and how they handle the situation emotionally.

I usually don't know until the next day, so I think she just played lights out on match point, literally, hitting lines. In retrospect, Kvitova said it's good she didn't know. The Japanese demolished WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina for the loss of five games in her quarter-final on Wednesday night. Osaka has the skills and weapons to blunt that heat and nearly put a blanket over it. This is Kvitova's first final at a Major since 2014 Wimbledon. For the second set alone, Kvitova won 90% points off her first sets.

The Czech could muster only 20, half of which came in the second set when she hung in to level the match despite the barrage of winners from her opponent.

Breaks of serve had been exchanged before the suspension of play and the first set eventually went to a tiebreak, which Kvitova won 7-2. She's been returning really well these two weeks.

"I found out lately that my doctor wasn't really happy with my hand during the second month, because the scars were very, very tight and hard, and I couldn't really do anything with that". She's also the first since American Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to make successive major finals after winning her maiden title. "She just played unbelievable".

Who would a title mean more to?

"I think the sport life helped me a lot with that".

If Collins' was the fairytale, Kvitova's is the guts and glory journey. So I kind of embrace that very well.

Mouratoglou: "For both, this is probably the most important of their career".

She was matching Kvitova´s power hitting when the roof was closed mid-way through the set at 4-4 to shut out the afternoon sun. Osaka's been so composed after the win at the US Open.

Williams is better for it, even when she doesn't win. "I think Astra's fearless out there; she goes for her shots, goes for her serve, not afraid to take over the net and it's just pretty easy out there when someone plays with so much confidence".

Mauresmo, who won two major titles as a player, including the 2006 Australian women's title, had previously worked as Andy Murray's coach. I'm feeling great with my game, with my team.

  • Rosalie Stanley