The two huge tales at this yr’s Australian Open up to now? First, that the match occurred in any respect—a lot much less with an viewers—however after some complicated quarantines, the tennis has gone off and not using a hitch. Well, one: After a COVID outbreak at one of many quarantine resorts, the crowds have been banned from the stands for 5 days. They returned simply in time to witness the massive on-court story up to now: Tenth-seeded Serena Williams—having fought her solution to the semifinals, defeating second-seeded Simona Halep alongside the best way—being reasonably handily dispatched by third-seeded Naomi Osaka, 6-3, 6-4. Williams appeared to place just a little one thing additional into her on-court congratulations to Osaka, and later wept on the post-match press convention earlier than rapidly exiting the stage, fueling speculation by more than a few that this is perhaps her closing flip in Oz.
Clearly, that’ll be as much as Williams: While Osaka’s victory would possibly seem to be a passing of the baton in retrospect, in actual time, Williams, at the least intermittently, gave the impression to be in it to win it, however her incapacity to pounce on Osaka’s reasonably shaky service sport, mixed with Osaka’s trifecta of superior motion, ridiculously angled photographs, and a newly emergent psychological calm and energy, all added as much as a tidal wave with which Williams merely wasn’t in a position to contend.
Which brings us to tomorrow’s girls’s closing (3:30 am EST on ESPN for the toughest of core, or watch the rebroadcast at 8 am on ESPN2), in which Osaka, 23, will sq. off towards American Jennifer Brady, seeded twenty second, who fought off Twenty fifth-seed Karolina Muchova in the opposite semifinal. With each gamers a bit nervous and tentative, every of them preventing to achieve their first-ever Grand Slam closing, it wasn’t the prettiest of matches—notably coming because it did immediately after the Williams-Osaka showdown—however Brady, 25, gutted out a troublesome three-set victory (together with ending an epic closing sport in which, at one level, she sunk to her knees beaming at her coaches, considering she’d received, earlier than one in every of them identified that her personal shot had been referred to as lengthy).
Just since you probably haven’t heard a lot about Brady, although, doesn’t imply she isn’t bringing some critical expertise to this match: She reached the quarters ultimately yr’s US Open—earlier than being defeated by none apart from Naomi Osaka in three hard-fought units in what was dubbed by many tennis writers the match of the season. She’s overwhelmed Osaka earlier than—however not lately, and never at a serious.