There will be a new Australian Open champion on Saturday on the women’s side with all four competitors yet to win the big one in Melbourne. Both semi-finals will have a slam champion in though, with Naomi Osaka representing against Karolina Pliskova in this one. The No.1 ranking is also up for grabs with Osaka currently leading in the live rankings. If she plays Danielle Collins in the final, she will be No.1 regardless of the result. If Kvitova makes the final, the winner of this match will face the Czech for the No.1 spot in addition to the title. Check out the Pliskova vs Osaka H2H stats.
Pliskova pulled off one of the most extraordinary comebacks in Australian Open history to make the semi finals, coming from 5-1 and match point down in the third set to defeat Serena Williams. There was some fortune thanks to a foot fault on match point and Serena turning her ankle but there was no doubt this was a well earned victory from the Czech. Pliskova has been often criticised for her inconsistency but you cannot argue with her stats from the last two matches. She put up just 3 unforced errors in a victory over Garbine Muguruza before hitting only 15 in the 6-4 4-6 7-5 win. Serena was full of praise for Pliskova afterwards despite the stinging nature of the defeat. “I stayed aggressive. She just literally hit the lines on some of them.” she said on the match points. “I can’t say that I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots.”
Osaka had it much easier in her quarter final, seeing off Elina Svitolina in a fairly routine 6-4 6-1 victory. The win keeps her on course for a second slam running, a feat rarely achieved by any player but even more so for a first time winner. It would be the first time since Jennifer Capriati did it in 2001. The ease of the win was a welcome relief for Osaka after two tough comeback victories although it was aided by a visibly struggling opponent. She remained calm in the match, avoiding falling into the trap that many do when playing an injured player. “This is something that I have been working on a lot, which is, like, trying to get deeper in tournaments more consistently. I think I have been able to do that.” she said. “But, yeah, for me right now I just try to keep looking forward. So I’m not really satisfied – like, I am happy that I’m here, but at the same time, I want to keep going.”
While many were focused on a rematch of the US Open Final between Osaka and Serena Williams, the resulting semi final still has the potential to be a hard hitting thriller. Pliskova has now had back-to-back matches where she has been in the zone and barely hit an error against top players while Osaka continues to establish herself as a big match player. Pliskova is 2-1 against Osaka including a Tokyo final win last year, not long after Osaka had became US Open champion.
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in three sets