Japan’s Naomi Osaka prevented the first ever Czech women’s singles final at a Grand Slam by becoming the first player to beat Karolina Pliskova in 2019 to set up a career meeting with Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final.
The eighth-seeded Kvitova was saved by the roof in her match against surprise semifinalist Danielle Collins. In the first set, the two-time Wimbledon champion felt tired and couldn’t have a full swing, but after umpire Carlos Ramos announced the closing of the roof on Rod Laver Arena because the heat index read 5 at 4-4, Kvitova won eight of the next ten games, plus the tiebreak en route to a 7-6(2) 6-0 victory over the unseeded American and her first Australian Open final.
In the second semifinal on Rod Laver Arena, the fourth-seeded Osaka cruised through the opening set against seventh seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 in 32 minutes and the stats were then on the Japanese’s side as she had won her previous 58 matches when taking the first set, plus, Pliskova was coming from a grueling yesterday’s quarterfinal against Serena Williams, in which the 26-year-old recovered from a 5-1 deficit in the third set. Still, Pliskova managed to take the match to the third set, breaking Osaka at love in the tenth game of the second set to win it 6-4.
After saving break points in her first service game in the deciding set, Osaka converted her first chance to break in the third game of the set, 2-1, which turned out to be crucial, as she kept that lead until the end, sealing a 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory with an ace that just touched the line and was even called out, but the challenge confirmed it was in. The key difference in the final set was the break point conversion, as the 21-year-old Osaka’s was 1/1, while Pliskova’s was 0/4.
On Saturday, the 28-year-old Kvitova will play her first Grand Slam final of her “second career”, i.e. her career after life-threatening stabbing in December 2016, while Osaka will play her second straight major final, after clinching the 2018 US Open title. It will be the first career meeting between the pair.