By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Naomi Osaka [4] v Karolina Pliskova [7]
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 [4] v Karolina Pliskova [7]

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?

 

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Standing in her way is Karolina Pliskova whose new coaching set-up with Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez is paying dividends after the comeback of the tournament so far.

READ MORE | Tennis | Australian Open 2019 | Williams: ‘What can I do better’ after being edged by Pliskova for semi-final berth

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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