The Australian Open Women’s Final is set. Although the top American contenders have been eliminated, 21-year-old Japanese/Haitian phenom Naomi Osaka is saving the day for Black Girl Magic in this event and continues to put Japan on the map as a tennis force to be reckoned with.
With Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Venus and surprisingly Serena Williams all falling to defeat prior to the semifinals, Osaka finds herself playing for all the marbles in the inaugural Grand Slam event of 2019.
Just four months ago, she became the first Japanese woman to win a singles major, defeating Serena in an historic head-to-head at the U.S. Open.
Osaka’s opponent, Petra Kvitová is the No. 8 ranked player in the world, hailing from Czech Republic. Infamous for her left-handed groundstrokes, she’s had a much easier path to the finals than Osaka.
Kvitová faced just one ranked player in her five matches. England’s Ashleigh Barty — who Kvitova demolished in straight sets on Sunday — was ranked No. 15 in the world entering the Australian Open. She eliminated underdog American Danielle Rose Collins in straight sets to advance to Saturday’s final.
Don’t sleep on a woman who has already survived a knife attack during a home invasion. She’s got heart and grit and she’s stared death in the face before.
Two years after a knife-wielding attacker broke robbed her in her home, causing tendon and nerve damage to her left hand, Petra Kvitova is back in a Grand Slam final with a chance to become world No. 1 for the first time. What a story… https://t.co/QzN6NKT10K
Osaka has to be ready for a different type of hunger and fearlessness out there.
＠Naomi_Osaka_ becomes the first Japanese woman in the Open Era to reach the #AusOpen final 🇯🇵🙌 https://t.co/KsL7YU28UP
With that being said, if strength of opponent means anything in tennis, then Osaka should be a heavy favorite in these finals.
Osaka had to face 28th-ranked Hsieh Su-wei, then 13th-ranked Anastasija Sevastova, then N0. 6 Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals. In yesterday’s semifinals, it took Naomi three grueling sets to defeat world No. 7 Karolína Plíšková,who was riding the high of her quarterfinals elimination win over Serena Williams on Tuesday.
In this moment, the spotlight is all on Osaka.
Instead of a rematch with Serena, she has the stage to herself and if she wins her second major, she might jump from No. 4 to No. 1 in the world soon.
That would signal the beginning of a new era in tennis.