× Sports Volleyball and Handball Cricket Hockey Gossip & Rumours Premier League Videos Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS
×
SPORTS

Osaka ends Williams' record bid and reaches Australian Open final

TENNIS By Reuters | February 18th 2021
United States' Serena Williams falls during her fourth round match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. [AP Photo/Hamish Blair]

Naomi Osaka ended Serena Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in a storm of power-hitting on Thursday, humbling the American great 6-3 6-4 to reach her second Australian Open final.

In a rematch of their tumultuous 2018 U.S. Open decider, Osaka underlined her status as the new queen of women's tennis and soaked up the cheers from the Rod Laver Arena crowd as fans returned to the Grand Slam after a five-day lockdown.

Williams, however, was left in tears.

The 39-year-old cut short her post-match news conference after breaking down when asked whether she had just had a bad day at the office.

"I had so many opportunities, ... it was just ... I made too many mistakes there and easy mistakes," said the American. "Not like .... I was on the run or anything. They were just easy, easy mistakes.

"I don't know. I'm done," she added before exiting the room in tears.

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 18, 2021 Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts during her semi final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. [REUTERS/Kelly Defina]

Osaka, the 2019 champion, will meet the winner of Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova for the title as the 23-year-old bids to claim her fourth Grand Slam crown.

"It's just always an honour to play her and I just didn't want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best," Osaka said after her 75-minute masterclass on a steamy afternoon.

"I was a little kid watching her play and just to be on the court playing against her is a dream.

"You're competitive, you are playing against another competitor, that itself is the funnest part because tennis is a game."

HAND ON HEART

Williams' record bid ended with another near-miss, having also reached the finals of four other Grand Slams since her last major crown at the Australian Open in 2017.

She paused while walking off as the centre court crowd gave her a standing ovation. She put her hand on her heart, smiled and waved.

Williams was asked whether the gesture was meant as a final farewell to Melbourne Park, where she holds a record seven titles in the professional era.

"I don't know, if I ever say farewell I wouldn't tell anyone, so...." she responded.

Williams and Osaka's last Grand Slam clash was full of drama at Flushing Meadows in the 2018 final, with the American losing her temper at the chair umpire and fans jeering during the trophy ceremony.

Thursday's semi-final was uneventful by comparison, though Osaka put on a tremendous show.

While Williams broke in the opening game and took a 2-0 lead, the Japanese third seed shrugged it off and won five straight games in a devastating display before closing out the set with a blazing forehand winner.

Williams of the U.S. husband Alexis Ohanian is seen in the stands during her semi final match against Japan's Naomi Osaka. [REUTERS/Kelly Defina]

Williams began yelling at herself between points, trying to fire herself up, but Osaka was all business as she broke the American in the first game of the second set.

Osaka would not let up until she wobbled with three double-faults to allow the American to break back to 4-4.

But Williams repaid the favour with a double-fault on the next service game giving Osaka three break points.

Osaka converted the first of them when she swooped in with a sumptuous angled backhand winner.

She then served out the match to love in a flawless finish, with an overwhelmed Williams thudding a backhand into the net.

Williams had come to Melbourne Park seeking a 24th Grand Slam title but it was her 24th unforced error that ended her campaign.

Share this story
Tanui sets in motion plans for Eldoret City Marathon
Former world champion says they will invite Ethiopian athletes for the race.
Serena Williams breaks down in tears, cuts short post-match interview
Serena Williams broke down in tears and cut short her post-match news conference after her...
.
RECOMMENDED NEWS
Feedback