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Australia Embracing the big moments takes Osaka, Brady into women's final

10:08  19 february  2021
10:08  19 february  2021 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

Naomi Osaka faces a talented Jennifer Brady in an Australian Open final which shapes to be a potential classic

  Naomi Osaka faces a talented Jennifer Brady in an Australian Open final which shapes to be a potential classic After and Australian Open like no other before, fans will be treated to a women's single's final with all the makings of an instant classic.Cool nights giving into scorching days.


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


Wim Fissette has coached some of the world's best players. From Kim Clijsters to Angelique Kerber to Naomi Osaka.

And the one thing they all do - according to the Belgian - is embrace the big moments; the big matches. But none more than Osaka.

"When I bring my kids to the toy store, they're very excited. And Naomi was that excited to go on court with Serena," Fissette said, reflecting on Osaka's semi-final win over Serena Williams.

"It was beautiful to see. In the end, this is why you do it. This is what you train for.

"It's good to see it that way, because a lot of times you feel the pressure … the fear to lose. But her mindset is just to look at the positives. This is exactly where I want to be.

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"The best players always play their best tennis when they need to."

Two very different Australian Open journeys converge tonight for the women's final. Osaka prepared in comfort in Adelaide and was able to train through her hotel quarantine, while Brady's preparation was thrown into chaos when a positive COVID-19 test of a close contact meant she couldn't leave her room for 15 days. 15, not 14.

But despite the contrast in preparation, Osaka and Jennifer Brady share one vital ingredient: mental fortitude.

From dealing with the overwhelming controversy of the 2018 US Open final - in which Osaka had to deal with a volcanic Serena Williams, an umpire and raucous New York crowd - to no crowd at the same location last year, Osaka's incredible temperament is what continues to elevate her to champion status.

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"She surprises me every day," Fissette said. "The way she has been handling tough situations, here at the Australian Open, last year at the US Open, the extra stress that came with that.

"How she deals with those situations is spectacular. The mindset she has; the happiness, the coolness … it's just amazing.

"There are certain things you can change, but these things are natural."

Brady's mental strength is self-evident. She's the only woman in the draw who has endured "hard quarantine" to make it past the third round.

She said after her quarter-final win that she didn't have high expectations of how far she would go at the Australian Open, but she also said she refused to complain about her unfortunate situation.

"I think it was more just trying to stay positive and know that there are worse things out there than being in a [hotel] room," she said.

Brady didn't turn on Netflix once in her two weeks contained inside her hotel room. She knew that if she started a series, she couldn't stop.

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Instead, the former college star spent her days speaking to friends and family on video calls, training and eating.

"Every morning I would have oats, oatmeal, and then I would actually order Uber Eats for lunch and dinner every single day, so I didn't eat one of the meals that were provided," she said. "I ordered Hunky Dory the first seven days, every single day, sometimes twice a day."

And while Brady spent her days bingeing on (high-class) fish and chips in Melbourne, Osaka was able to train and play for four and a half hours a day in Adelaide.

Brady may not have set solid goals for 2021's first slam, but she gave herself the best opportunity in it by choosing not to complain but instead embrace the big moments and big matches.

"We turned the mattress on the wall, so she could at least feel the ball on the racquet. We tried just to make the best out of the situation," Brady's coach Michael Geserer said.

"We never thought one second to complain, just to approach it right with the right attitude and that helped us, it helped her.

"We didn't have a master plan because it's never happened to us before."

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Of the finalists, Osaka has enjoyed the easier run throughout the tournament.

She survived a scare in her fourth-round clash with last year's runner-up Garbine Muguruza, saving match points to eventually prevail 7-5 in the third set.

Other than that, she's barely been tested and hasn't dropped a set.

Despite losing the first two games of their semi-final, Osaka was simply too good for Williams on Thursday. She more than matched the 23-time grand slam winner with venom from the baseline, thumping 20 winners to Williams' 11.

Brady's past two matches, however, have been epics. She came from a set down against fellow American Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals, and outlasted a courageous Karolina Muchova in the semi-final in a gripping encounter that included a 12-minute final game.

The pair met in a semi-final of the US Open last September, a three-set stunner that Osaka has said was one of the top two matches she had played in.

Osaka prevailed that day in New York and went on to lift a third grand slam trophy, all part of her 20-match win streak.

For Brady to beat her, she will have to end that streak, but also become the first player to deny Osaka in a grand slam final.

It will be a big moment for both of them.

Calmer Osaka looking to be role model on court - coach .
Calmer Osaka looking to be role model on court - coachMELBOURNE (Reuters) - Naomi Osaka not only wants to win Grand Slams and hoist trophies but also hopes to be a role model in the way she carries herself on court, her coach Wim Fissette said on Friday.

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