Tennis: Naomi Osaka beats Jennifer Brady in three sets to reach US Open final

Naomi Osaka fired 35 winners and had 17 unforced errors inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Naomi Osaka fired 35 winners and had 17 unforced errors inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP, REUTERS) - Fourth seed Naomi Osaka defeated 28th seed Jennifer Brady in three sets to reach the US Open final on Thursday (Sept 10).

The Japanese 2018 US Open champion overcame the 25-year-old American 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-3 in 2hr 8min under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium. She  will play former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the final.

Brady arrived at her first Grand Slam semi-final without having dropped a set in New York and did not show any nerves but Osaka's firepower allowed her to get by the American 28th seed in a high-quality match.

Osaka, who two years ago in New York won the first of two consecutive Grand Slam titles, fired 35 winners, and had 17 unforced errors inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Osaka's victory ended a splendid US Open run for Brady, whose previous best Grand Slam performances came in 2017 when she reached the fourth round in Melbourne and New York.

“I really love the atmosphere even though there’s sadly no people here,” said Osaka. “This court really suits me well.”

Osaka set the tone early when she served out to love to open the match but she soon learned she had a battle on her hands as a composed Brady came out swinging in a contest that featured just six break-point opportunities.

Japanese world No. 9 Osaka turned aside a break point while serving at 3-3 in the first stanza, held at love to get ahead 5-4 and then ran away in the tiebreak to close out a set in which she made just four unforced errors.

Brady, however, was not rattled and dropped only four points through her first four service games of the second set before securing the first break of the match for a 5-3 lead that she would consolidate to force a decider.

From there it was all Osaka, who built on an early break to lead 4-1 before going on to seal the match as Brady, whose previous best Grand Slam performances came in 2017 when she reached the fourth round in Melbourne and New York.

“I just felt like I was sticking it out, it felt like we were trading serves,” Osaka said of the semi-final tussle. “I think I tried to adjust a little bit on her serve in the third set so maybe that helped,” she added.

Osaka’s victory sends her back to the Flushing Meadows final, where in 2018 she beat Williams in a match that saw the American become involved in a series of confrontations with the chair umpire.