Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 13 of the 2021 Australian Open.
Something special happened on day 11 of this year’s Australian Open.
On the same day that Jennifer Brady booked the first Grand Slam final of her career and that Novak Djokovic crushed the dreams of men’s tennis’s new demigod, on that same day Naomi Osaka is the one who made the biggest statement of all.
In one of the two women’s semifinals, the Japanese overcame Serena Williams 6-3 and 6-4 to make the fourth Grand Slam final of her young career. Still only 23 years old, Osaka will be gunning for what would already be her fourth major. If and when Osaka makes the second week of a Grand Slam, it’s typically been bad news for her opponents.
See you in the finals #ausopen pic.twitter.com/RXJGVe2qEo
— NaomiOsaka????? (@naomiosaka) February 18, 2021
You might have heard, she’s building quite the resume for herself, with more than $17 million in prize money and six total titles to her name already. The ranking beside her name might say 3 but, with apologies to Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep in front of her, Osaka has increasingly become the best hard courts player and the face of women’s tennis.
“Oh … I was just guessing.” ?@naomiosaka was super honest about defending Serena’s serve. pic.twitter.com/Jl2erMFt4c
— ESPN (@espn) February 18, 2021
What about Serena Williams?
As for Williams, this is yet another heartbreaking setback in her quest to catch up to Margaret Court’s tally of 24 career singles Grand Slam titles. It’s literally the only thing left for her to accomplish, but it’s sadly become something of a Holy Grail. And her quest to get up the proverbial mountain and accomplish this final task has seemingly become doomed.
Whether she gets to 24 or not before she retires, Williams remains quite probably the greatest tennis player of all time—and by all accounts, an even better human and mother. We’ll miss her when she’s gone.
After her semifinal loss to Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams leaves the pressroom in tears.#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/g95Fva006O
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 18, 2021
Women’s final prediction
You can find our prediction for the women’s final prediction. In the meantime, the entire day 13 schedule is right here.
Rod Laver Arena: Jennifer Brady  vs Naomi Osaka  (Starting at 7:30mp AEDT)
Welcome to the final of the women’s Australian Open, one that will be competed between a player who’s absolutely been there before and another who undeniably never has. In a pandemic or not, there is no bigger stage in tennis than the Rod Laver Arena, where both Jennifer Brady and Naomi Osaka will compete on day 13.
But this isn’t exactly a fair fight—at least not on paper. On paper, this fight says that there’s a clear underdog and a clear favourite. Look, this tweet below shows just how ridiculous Osaka has been the farther she goes in Grand Slam draws.
Naomi Osaka is now 11-0 in Grand Slam quarters/semis/finals. The clear favourite delivered.#AusOpen
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) February 18, 2021
Brady, meanwhile, is currently in the midst of the hottest of hot streaks, having made this final a few months after making her first Grand Slam semifinal last summer at the US Open (where she lost to, yes, Osaka). In other words, the 25-year-old is currently living her best life.
She hasn’t exactly had to work all that hard to reach this final if you consider winning six Grand Slam matches very little work. Mostly, what we mean is that Brady didn’t need to beat a player ranked higher than semifinalist Karolina Muchova but you can only beat who’s across the net from you.
Time for our prediction
As much as we would like to, we’re not going to go against a player like Osaka at the height of her abilities. She wins in straight sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG