Up ahead in Australian Open: Naomi Osaka vs Jennifer Brady
One Australian Open finalist spoke about how intimidating it was to serve against Serena Williams and also volunteered that she was guilty of mindless eating during her mandatory 14-day quarantine. That would be Naomi Osaka, who is 3 for 3 in Grand Slam finals.
The other acknowledged envisioning her post-match celebration before her semi-final was won, causing her to lose focus, and also offered that she didn’t binge-watch any shows on her 14-day lockdown, because she knew that would lead to lazing around in bed all day.
That would be Jennifer Brady, a former UCLA standout who became the first woman to come through the college ranks to advance to a Grand Slam final since Kathy Jordan at this tournament in 1983.
The women’s singles final at the Australian Open will feature the most relatable high-octane servers with hammering groundstrokes that you would ever want to meet (just not on the court).
Osaka, 23, and Brady, 25, have displayed ruthless power in their matches and disarming vulnerability in their news conferences.
Osaka staved off two match points in a fourth-round three-setter against Garbiñe Muguruza and didn’t panic when she faced a break point while trailing Serena 0-2 in the first set of their semi-final. She has improved her mental toughness, she said, by talking to her coach, Wim Fissette.
Brady squandered four match points on Thursday before dispatching Karolina Muchova in three sets. “I was just so nervous,” she said. “I couldn’t feel my legs.”
Saturday’s final will be only their second professional meeting, but they have known each other since they were youngsters competing in USTA-sanctioned tournaments in Florida, where they both grew up.
By managing the best they can under stressful circumstances, they have managed to be the last two women standing. Who these days can’t relate to that?