Jennifer Brady will take on Naomi Osaka in the final of the 2021 Australian Open on Saturday. And ahead of the blockbuster clash, the American claimed Osaka can't be compared to any player she has ever faced.
Brady advanced to her first career Grand Slam final on Thursday with a three-set win over Karolina Muchova. The 22nd-seed's 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win has set up a repeat of the 2020 US Open semifinal, which Osaka won in three close sets.
Speaking in the aftermath of her semifinal win, Jennifer Brady asserted that Naomi Osaka's big serve, powerful groundstrokes and aggressive game make her different from every other player on the women's tour.
"I don't think there is anyone that I would compare her to that I have played, not that I can think of," Brady said. "She just puts a lot of pressure on you to serve well, because she's holding serve in, like, 45 seconds."
"She's coming at you with a lot of power, so it also puts a lot of pressure on you to be aggressive and try to get the first strike," the American added. "Otherwise you're the one running, and I don't want to be running."
That said, Jennifer Brady is heading into the final with plenty of self-belief. The 25-year-old feels she can compete on even terms against the 2019 Australian Open champion, given her own firepower off the ground.
"When I go out there, she's not going to overpower me," Brady said. "She's not going to play unbelievable tennis where I can't find my game. When I go out there, it's having the mentality that I'm not beneath her. I have a chance of winning."
Brady also talked about the importance of fighting through the nerves of playing a maiden Slam final, despite the fact that she has very little to lose compared to Osaka.
"I have nothing to lose," she added. "She's won Slams, she's ranked higher, she beat me the last time we played. I know for sure I'll come out there nervous and put expectations on myself. It's about settling into the match and not losing that self-belief that I can win. If I lose that, then I have no chance."
"Not really surprising at all to see her in another semis or another finals" - Naomi Osaka on Jennifer Brady
Naomi Osaka, who defeated Serena Williams in the first women's semifinal on Thursday, enjoys a 2-1 edge over Brady in the pair's head-to-head. The Japanese revealed she wasn't surprised to learn that Brady had beaten Muchova to reach the final, given their memorable encounter at the US Open in September.
"After I played her in the semis of New York, I knew she was going to do well," Naomi Osaka said.
The 23-year-old, who has never lost a match at a Major after reaching the quarterfinals, will be hoping to keep her streak alive on Saturday as she seeks her fourth career Grand Slam.
"I think I fight the hardest in the finals," Naomi Osaka said. "I think that's where you sort of set yourself apart. It's the other person who won as many matches as you did. It's like the biggest fight."