Good evening, good morning, and welcome to our live coverage of the Australian Open women’s singles final. We are here, we’ve made it. Well done to all, but particularly well done to Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady, the two finalists seeking one trophy.
Third seed Osaka is the clear favourite (though it’s not really that simple; more on that in a bit). Her grand slam final record is perfect and she can make it four from four at Melbourne Park, where she of course won the the 2019 Australian Open. The Japanese 23-year-old has also never lost after passing the fourth round of any major tournament.
Her 20-match winning run dating back 53 weeks is statistical evidence of some phenomenal gains in her game these past 6-12 months that were on display in her semi-final against Serena Williams, and makes her one of the leader’s of a new generation of women players.
But Osaka’s strength does not make Brady weak. Quite the contrary. The American’s maiden grand slam decider is the result of grit and defiance. The 25-year-old, who is seeded 22nd, was one of the players who endured a 14-day hard quarantine in Melbourne, during which time she was stuck inside a hotel room and not granted the five-hour exemption for training and treatment enjoyed by many other players. Brady is the only of the 51 singles players who made it past round three. She has dropped only two sets in six matches, and her three-set semi-final against Karolína Muchová was one of the most gripping ties of the tournament.
Speaking of gripping, Brady and Osaka played each other in last year’s US Open semi-finals, in an encounter widely seen as the best women’s match of the year and one Osaka said is “probably in the top two matches I’ve played in my life”. All up, the pair have met three times with the record standing at 2-1 in Osaka’s favour.
So strap yourselves in. Play starts at 7.30pm, 8.30am if you’re in the UK and various times in the US y’all can work out at your end.