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Naomi Osaka is the "new boss" of women's tennis, says Justine Henin

Naomi Osaka is congratulated by Serena Williams at the 2021 Australian Open
Naomi Osaka is congratulated by Serena Williams at the 2021 Australian Open
Rudra Biswas
ANALYST
Modified 19 Feb 2021
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Naomi Osaka ended Serena Williams' challenge in comfortable fashion to reach the Australian Open final, and will now be looking to win a second title in Melbourne on Saturday. Osaka was absolutely clinical in her win over Williams, which prompted seven-time Justine Henin to claim that the Japanese is the "new boss" of women's tennis.

Osaka has been in top form since the tour resumed last year in August, and is now on a 20-match unbeaten streak. The 23-year-old won the 2020 US Open and is also the overwhelming favorite to win the Australian Open against surprise finalist Jennifer Brady.

Justine Henin recently spoke of Osaka's new status as the winningest player on the WTA tour, and claimed that her game had 'taken another dimension' since her US Open title.

"For me, women’s tennis has a new boss," Henin said. "Naomi Osaka has this capacity and she is taking her game into another dimension after winning the US Open."

"Serena Williams was confident at the start of the match, but the big difference now is the experience of Naomi Osaka" - Justine Henin

Naomi Osaka has been in scintillating form since tour resumption last year
Naomi Osaka has been in scintillating form since tour resumption last year

With her victory against Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka also doused the 39-year-old's hopes of tying Margaret Court's record tally of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. But at one stage during the match Williams looked on course to keep her bid alive; the American raced to a 2-0 lead and was even one point away from leading by a double break.

Naomi Osaka pulled things back against the very game Serena Williams, and started playing with more initiative as the first set progressed. The three-time Major eventually came away the victor by a scoreline of 6-3, 6-4, completely nullifying Williams' strengths by the end.

Justine Henin made a reference to the contrast in the start and the end of the match, and attributed Osaka's comeback to her experience and solid base level of play.

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"Serena was clearly confident at the start of the match and Naomi was making a lot of mistakes, but the big difference now is the experience of Osaka," Henin said. "It is her capacity, also, to stay in it, and then she started to serve better. The thing I'm really impressed about is that she doesn't need to overplay."

Henin also made special mention of Osaka's serving. While the Japanese failed to land even 40% of her first serves in the first set, she did a much better job of finding big serves in the second set.

"Clearly, once she got into the match she was in control of the rallies," Henin continued. "She was powerful and she was serving better and better in the second set."

Justine Henin ended the conversation by claiming that Naomi Osaka would win more Grand Slams in the future. Based on the evidence of this fortnight in Melbourne, it is hard to argue otherwise.

Published 19 Feb 2021, 13:51 IST
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