Naomi Osaka sinks Jennifer Brady in thriller to reach second US Open final

Osaka crunched shots during her US Open semi-final with Jennifer Brady (Picture: Getty)

Naomi Osaka powered her way into a third Grand Slam final after an intense, heavy-hitting and extraordinarily high-level US Open semi-final tussle with Jennifer Brady.

Osaka, the fourth seed from Japan, has never lost a match beyond the last-16 of a major and maintained that run to put herself within touching distance of a third Slam title.

Her opponent Brady, the 28th seed from Pennsylvania, more than played her part in a fast-paced encounter under the closed Arthur Ashe Stadium roof, where two phenomenal ball strikers took chunks out of each other. It’s no exaggeration to say this was the highest quality match of the tournament so far.

It was impossible to tell from Brady’s performance alone that this was her first Grand Slam semi-final. Against most opponents on the planet, she surely would have been moving on to her first major final.

But Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete on the planet, is no ordinary player and she will bid for her second US Open title after a 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-3 win in two hours and nine minutes.

”It means a lot for me,’ said Osaka after the match. ‘I kind of consider New York my second home. I love the atmosphere, even though there’s no people here. This court really suits me well.’

Her final opponent will be decided later on Thursday night, with Serena Williams taking on fellow former Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka.

Brady was in exceptional form (Picture: Getty)

Williams was Osaka’s opponent in her first Grand Slam final on this very stage. It proved to be a straight sets win for the Japanese, but it was a night remembered for Williams’ extraordinary on-court spat with umpire Carlos Ramos.

She will hope for a tamer affair on Saturday, although the straight sets win would no doubt be welcomed.

Each player arrived on Ashe with hefty strapping on their upper left legs, but there were no signs of physical discomfort or limited movement from either as they took turns thrashing the ball at electrifying speeds.

The first break was not of serve, but of a shoelace. Brady – who will rise to a career-high world No. 25 in the WTA rankings when they are next released – was forced to fix her footwear when 40-30 up in her opening service game before holding.

Both possess heavy artillery and rallies were kept short as they spanked serves and forehands past each other. The first six games whizzed by in only 20 minutes.

The seventh game was the first to go to deuce. From 40-0 up, Osaka threw in some dreadful errors and gifted Brady break point, which was wasted by a wild backhand return off a second serve.

Osaka took the first set (Picture: Getty)

By holding to love in the ninth game, Osaka became the first player to take five games off Brady in a single set during the tournament, and it was soon six as they entered a tiebreak after 45 minutes.

There had been nothing to split them in the set but the tiebreak was a one-sided affair and Osaka moved in front.

Brady was unperturbed by the setback and the astonishing level from both remained sky high in another incredibly hard-fought set.

In the eighth game of the second set, Brady broke. A wayward Osaka forehand skewed wide and the American served it out to level.

Osaka’s first break points arrived in the 26th game of the match as Brady’s concentration lapsed with the rain pounding down on the Arthur Ashe roof.

She only needed one opportunity and it proved decisive. Although Brady bravely saved three more break points in the sixth game of the decider, there was no way back.

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