Australian Open women's final: Naomi Osaka takes on Petra Kvitova
Naomi Osaka will aim to show there is a new serial champion in town when she takes on Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final on Saturday with world No 1 on the line
Last Updated: 26/01/19 8:14am
The Australian Open women's final will be contested between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, two players who could never have foreseen this circumstance a year ago.
Now ranked as the world's No 6 and No 4 respectively, Kvitova and Osaka have come a long way to reach a Grand Slam final.
Unusually, Saturday's match (starts 8.30am GMT) will be a first career meeting between Osaka and 28-year-old Kvitova, with the added spice that the winner will also take the world No 1 ranking.
The Czech Republic's Kvitova, this time last year, had re-entered the WTA top 10 for the first time in three years. It had been a harrowing period for her - in 2016, she was the victim of a knife attack that resulted in hand surgery, threatening her career.
Previously Kvitova had twice won Wimbledon but it seemed for years that her ability to win Grand Slams was gone.
She said: "There were moments and days where I didn't really think very positively that I can be in the final of a Grand Slam any more. It took me a little while, five years to get there, which is not easy. That's probably the best thing that I proved, that I didn't give up."
Did you know...
If 28-year-old Petra Kvitova wins on Saturday, she will become the oldest debut world No 1 in the Open Era.
If 21-year-old Naomi Osaka wins, she will become the youngest WTA No 1 since Caroline Wozniacki.
Should Kvitova triumph, it would mean that the last nine Grand Slam titles would have been won by nine different players, but an Osaka win would not just stop the run but see her become a back-to-back champion after her maiden title in New York.
Kvitova is playing in her first major final outside of Wimbledon, and said of facing Osaka: "Definitely I need to play my best tennis. I think Naomi is on fire. She's an aggressive player, which I am as well. So I think it will be about who is going to take the first point and push the other a little bit."
Japan-born Osaka, a year ago, was ranked at No 72 and had never won a WTA title.
Still aged just 21, she has enjoyed a sensational 12 months highlighted by winning the US Open title with an upset victory over Serena Williams in the final.
Asked why she has seemingly found adjusting to life as a Grand Slam winner so straightforward where many others have struggled, Osaka said: "I love Grand Slams.
"This is a place I think is worth all the training. When you're little, you watch the grand slams, you watch all the players play the legendary matches here. For me, this is the most important tournament. There's only four of them a year, so of course I want to do the best that I can."
Osaka has now reached a second consecutive Grand Slam final by beating Karolina Pliskova, who in turn had eliminated Williams.
"I think to have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a Grand Slam is something very amazing," said Osaka. "I've watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is. It's definitely going to be very tough for me."
Kvitova won both her Wimbledon finals, in 2011 and 2014, and has an outstanding record in deciders having won 24 of 31 at tour level, including the last eight.
Osaka v Kvitova: Tale of the tape
|Naomi Osaka||Petra Kvitova|
|Sascha Bajin||COACH||Jiri Vanek|
|$7.7million||CAREER PRIZE MONEY||$27.5million|
|1||GRAND SLAM TITLES||2|
|Finalist (2019)||AUSTRALIAN OPEN BEST||Finalist (2019)|
Kvitova and Osaka have never played each other before. The winner of Saturday's final will also become the new world No 1 for the first time in their career.
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