Australian Open: Lockdown warrior Brady faces ultimate test against Osaka

U.S.'s Jennifer Brady faces the ultimate test of her resilience against Naomi Osaka in the women's single final.

Osaka and Brady have taken contrasting routes to the final and will square off for the title on Saturday. - GETTY IMAGES

Jennifer Brady spent two weeks in hard quarantine gathering mental strength for her tilt at a maiden Grand Slam title and will hope there is plenty in reserve when she takes on Naomi Osaka in Saturday's Australian Open final.

While some of those in hard quarantine complained about not being able to train before the Grand Slam, Brady likened it to a long decompression session that probably helped her bulldoze through the draw against better-prepared players.

Now the rising 25-year-old faces the ultimate test of her resilience against Osaka, who beat her in the US Open semifinals on the way to her third Grand Slam triumph.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel on Saturday," said the American.

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"I can say I can enjoy the moment and just try to play tennis and not really think too much about it, but there's going to be moments, there's going to be games, there's going to be points where I'm going to be thinking about, 'Wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title'."

Osaka the favourite

The odds are against it though, with third seed Osaka rated a virtually unbackable favourite by bookmakers to raise a second Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday, two years after beating Petra Kvitova for the 2019 title.

 

The 22nd seed Brady has shown grit to get this far, winning consecutive three-set matches against semi-finalist Karolina Muchova and Jessica Pegula, but compared to Osaka's tough draw the American has had an armchair ride.

Brady made heavy weather beating a profligate Muchova, needing five match points to finish it, while Osaka crushed Serena Williams in two sets and sealed victory on the first match point. Add that to the fact that Osaka is on a 20-match winning streak and has never lost a Grand Slam final.

"For me, I have this mentality that people don't remember the runners-up," said 2019 champion Osaka after leaving a defeated Williams in tears.

"You might, but the winner's name is the one that's engraved," she added.

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