Osaka edges Pliskova to set up Open final with Kvitova

Osaka edges Pliskova to set up Open final with Kvitova

Javier Howell
January 25, 2019

Accustomed to Floridian heat, she would have been happy to keep playing under the hot sun and felt the match was affected by the closed roof.

It's semi-final day in the women's singles at the Australian Open and Dan Weston is back with his best bets as well as reflecting on an extraordinary exit for Serena Williams.

Kvitova, who could become the world No 1 on Monday, will face Naomi Osaka in what will be the 28-year-old's first Grand Slam final since returning from a career-threatening hand injury after she was attacked with a knife at her home in December 2016. Karolina Pliskova, on the edge of the abyss (she was on the score of 1-5 in the third set) was able to eliminate Serena Williams after a thrilling last set.

"I was so scared serving second serves, I was like 'oh my God, please!'" she said. Now, still just 21, she's suddenly on the verge of a second consecutive major championship.

The chair umpire was Carlos Ramos, the official who penalized Williams a game in last year's chaotic US Open final, and Collins got into a couple of testy exchanges with him.

"I think there is a lot to learn off of what she does on the court".

If I have to pick a favourite for the final then I will go for Osaka. "I have worked very hard to be in the final of a major tournament". I like playing indoors'. Coming into the match as one of the biggest servers in the women's game, Pliskova managed three aces in the match while the Japanese reeled off 15, often coming up with unreturned serves to win the crucial points. The victor will rise to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time; Osaka is now No. 4, Kvitova is No. 6.

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We're referring to the announcement, at four-all in the first set of her semifinal match against Danielle Collins on Thursday, that tournament officials had made a decision to close the roof.

Kvitova completely dominated from that point, claiming another two breaks to race into her third slam final and first in five years after one hour, 34 minutes.

Osaka hit an incredible 56 winners on her way to victory, and in holding off Pliskova's fightback the fourth seed made it 59 straight wins when she was taken the first set.

Osaka continued to blaze away under the roof, striking winners seemingly at will and eliciting both gasps and appreciative applause from the crowd.

The Czech could muster only 20, half of which came in the second set when she hung in to level the match despite the barrage of winners from her opponent.

It was Osaka's turn to dig deep in the eighth game, as she saved a break point before levelling up at 4-4, but two games later Pliskova broke her to love to send the match to a decider.