By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Naomi Osaka  v Karolina Pliskova 
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Naomi Osaka overcame a struggling Elina Svitolina and a pesky bug to set up a semi-final encounter with Karolina Pliskova.
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Naomi Osaka  v Karolina Pliskova 
It should and/or could have been the semi-final of the day between two players destined to be the continual Slam winners of the future. Instead a neck injury meant that Naomi Osaka ended up coasting at the end against Elina Svitolina to make the second successive semi-final of a Slam.
When you think back to how overwhelmed she had been when she made the quarter-finals at the US Open, before demonstrating such steely resolve to make the semi-finals and ultimately win the title, this is just another example of how she has worked hard on focussing on her achievements.
She said, after her quarter-final: “It feels really good. This is something that I have been working on a lot, trying to get deeper in tournaments more consistently. I think I have been able to do that. For me right now I just try to keep looking forward. So I’m not really satisfied — like, I am happy that I’m here, but at the same time, I want to keep going. There [are] more matches to win.
“I already know that to be here is something that a lot of people want, and I know that a few months ago I would have given anything to be in the semi-finals of a slam.
“But it’s, like, this weird feeling of you want to do the next big thing. And especially now that I won a Grand Slam, and I feel like I want to win another one, and I’m so close and I just want to keep going.”
Who will be the Australian Open Women’s Singles Champion?
Osaka got the better of Pliskova on her way to the Indian Wells title, but Pliskova made headway against Osaka following the tumultuous ascent to becoming a Slam champion. Their only ‘three-setter’ was actually just one game in the decider in their first encounter so it has been straight sets all the way.
However, having thought that Pliskova’s quarter-final would be over in straight sets, perhaps we ought to strap in for a long one. It certainly deserves to be. The question is – is Pliskova’s knee likely to be an issue? It did not affect her movement against Serena Williams and we can expect to see two very similar games.
Osaka has a consistent serve, and attacks big off both wings but with spins and pace that can drive another player crazy. Pliskova of course has her serve and can expect a few free points but her forceful groundstrokes and actually for such a tall unit with long levers, when she is up at the net she is more than adept, this is no forgone conclusion.
Prediction: Osaka in three sets.
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