Australian Open 2021: Confident Naomi Osaka 'at ease' after storming into semis

Osaka overcame tHsieh Su-wei's unorthodox style 6-2, 6-2 in an all-Asian quarter-final at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena.

Agence France-Presse February 16, 2021 12:18:04 IST
Australian Open 2021: Confident Naomi Osaka 'at ease' after storming into semis

Naomi Osaka hits a forehand return to Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei during their quarter-final match at the Australian Open. AP

World number three Naomi Osaka warned Tuesday that she's feeling confident and "at ease" after storming past Hsieh Su-wei in straight sets to book an Australian Open semi-final against either Serena Williams or Simona Halep.

The Japanese three-time Grand Slam champion overcame the Taiwanese world number 71's unorthodox style 6-2, 6-2 in an all-Asian quarter-final at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka hit 24 winners in a dominant display lasting just 66 minutes against her 35-year-old opponent, who made history by becoming the oldest woman in the Open era to debut in the quarter-finals of a Slam.

After being thrown off her rhythm early by the canny Su-wei, a focused Osaka took control and then cruised to victory in stark contrast to her fourth-round match where she needed to save two match points in a tense battle against last year's runner-up in Australia, Garbine Muguruza.

"I think my confidence was raised after I played Muguruza the other day just because she's such a quality opponent, and my back was against the wall," Osaka said about coming back from 3-5 and 15-40 on her serve in the third set.

"I'm at ease with how my game is right now.

"I felt like today I told myself just to be really intense from the beginning.

- 'I didn't want three sets' -

"I felt like I knew what to expect and that I couldn't afford to be lazy with my footwork or anything.

"I didn't want to play three sets today."

Osaka, 23, will play either 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams or world number two Halep for a place in Saturday's final.

"Serena... someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court," said Osaka, who beat Williams in a tempestuous 2018 US Open final.

"Halep, I don't really like playing her. She's someone that's really tough, someone that gets the ball back every time.

"For me, it's definitely a mental and physical battle.

"This is kind of where guts come in. I think everyone's very nervous, everyone wants to win.

"So managing that is definitely important."

Osaka has gone on to win the title each time she has reached the quarter-finals of a Slam and stayed on track for a second Australian Open title, having first won it in 2019.

The defending US Open champion, however, downplayed her prior achievements, preferring to focus on being consistent.

"The fact is if I don't reach the finals, I lose in the fourth round or the third round," said Osaka, who is playing in her 18th Grand Slam since starting in 2016.

"For me, I'm happy to be more consistent. I think I'm being more consistent since New York, so that's the ultimate goal for me."

Osaka is riding a 19-match unbeaten streak dating back 12 months, but exited Melbourne Park early last year after her title defence ended with a shock loss to American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round.

Updated Date:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Australian Open 2021: At Melbourne Park, Novak Djokovic chases 18th Slam, Daniil Medvedev his first
Sports

Australian Open 2021: At Melbourne Park, Novak Djokovic chases 18th Slam, Daniil Medvedev his first

The final pits one of the greatest ever to play the sport, and at a site he's dominated, against a player who currently is playing better than anyone in men's tennis.

Australian Open 2021: Recapping Naomi Osaka's four Grand Slam title-winning runs
Sports

Australian Open 2021: Recapping Naomi Osaka's four Grand Slam title-winning runs

Naomi Osaka clinched her fourth Grand Slam title on Saturday after beating Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open. Here's how her two US Opens and two Australian Opens were won:

Australian Open 2021: Beyond Big Three, Novak Djokovic sets sights on Serena Williams' and Margaret Court's Grand Slam tally
Sports

Australian Open 2021: Beyond Big Three, Novak Djokovic sets sights on Serena Williams' and Margaret Court's Grand Slam tally

Djokovic raised the prospect of a bigger goal: reaching the 23 held by Williams, and even the 24 won by Court straddling the amateur and Open era.