"I feel like if I was negative for a split second I would have lost the match today. I have to keep pumping myself up and I haven't played as many matches as a lot of these other players so I just have to keep learning" - Naomi Osaka as she books Miami Open final place
Friday 1 April 2022 10:43, UK
Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka fired off 18 aces as the Japanese former world No 1 beat Swiss Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 on Thursday to reach her first Miami Open final.
Osaka will next face Poland's second seed Iga Swiatek in the final, who defeated American Jessica Pegula 6-2 7-5 for her 16th straight win.
The 24-year-old Osaka entered the tournament ranked No 77 in the world and could climb back into the top 30 if she wins the title.
"I feel like if I was negative for a split second I would have lost the match today. I have to keep pumping myself up and I haven't played as many matches as a lot of these other players so I just have to keep learning," Osaka said.
"She had a really amazing service return - there were times I thought that I hit great serves but she just hit winners.
"(I was) just battling my inner thoughts and trying to know that I must play one point at a time and, you know, adjust if I have to but try not to overwhelm myself with my thoughts."
Osaka saved five of six break points in the third set before closing out the match with an ace and a grin, having reached her first final since her second Australian Open title a year ago.
Osaka will next face Swiatek, who will replace the now-retired Ashleigh Barty as the No 1 ranked women's player in the world, in the final.
Swiatek fought past Pegula to remain undefeated at WTA 1000 events this season. It was her 16th straight victory, and keeps her on course to clinch the 'Sunshine Double' after winning in Indian Wells last month.