Jennifer Brady has rejected any sense of inferiority when it comes to Naomi Osaka, saying the Japanese star has changed her forever.
Osaka and Brady to face off in Final
It's game time.
Welcome to our live coverage of the Australian Open women’s final between Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady.
Osaka is hunting her fourth grand slam title while her opponent’s recent career rejuvenation has seen her progress to the decider of a major for the first time.
Brady defeated Karolina Muchova in a nerve-racking three-setter to make the final while the Japanese star thumped Serena Williams to book her place in the biggest match of the year so far.
The final is scheduled to begin at 7.30pm AEDT.
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Third seed Osaka believes she has sharpened her game since then, which will be crucial to blunt the strong-serving American.
“I play a little bit different now,” said Osaka.
“I think my returns are better. I can’t fully base everything on that match, but definitely it’s something to reference.”
Brady, 25, has not faced a higher-ranked player in her run to the final, helped by the exits of world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and defending champion Sofia Kenin on her side of the draw.
Having not lost a set until her three-set thriller against Karolina Muchova in the semis, Brady knows she is in for a fight against a player she long believed was destined for stardom.
“We grew up playing junior local tournaments in Florida,” she said. “I remember playing her, I was, like, ‘Wow, she hits the ball huge. She’s going to be good. She’s got something special'.”
Brady, who “didn’t really like” tennis as a youngster, but rekindled her love for the sport at college, has revelled in self-belief since her breakthrough in New York, but admitted the cauldron of a slam final will be a new experience.
“I don’t know how I’m going to feel on Saturday,” she said.
“There are going to be moments, games, points where I’m going to be thinking … ‘Wow, this could be my first grand slam title.’”
Despite being two years younger, Osaka is more experienced on the highest stage and said she has learned to be calmer about big-match occasions.
“I used to weigh my entire existence on if I won or lost a tennis match,” she said. “That’s just not how I feel any more.”
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