Osaka books place in 2019 Australian Open final

Author: BBC Sport
Naomi Osaka

Japanese fourth seed and US Open champion, Naomi Osaka, dismissed  Czech seventh seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in their semi-final encounter to book a place with Petra Kvitova, another Czech, in Saturday's Australian Open final.

The semi-final, which was played under the Rod Laver Arena roof, saw the two tennis stars battling it out at  temperatures of 40C in Melbourne.

Osaka, 21, hit 15 aces and 56 winners in a confident display.she hit another forehand winner to give herself a match point at 40-30, shouting "come on" as she looked up to the sky and tried to compose herself, then hit what she thought was an 111mph ace down the middle.

After it was called out, Osaka challenged and clasped her hands together in hope as she watched the replay -- and was left celebrating when Hawk-Eye showed the ball had clipped the line.

Asked about her feelings when Pliskova won the second set, Osaka said: "I kind of expected it a little because I've played her so many times and she has beaten me more than I've beaten her. I told myself to regroup and I managed to win.

"It's just experience playing matches like this. I was so scared serving second serves, I was like 'oh, my god, please' and somehow I made it so I guess that's experience."

The final will see Osaka and 28-year-old Kvitova, who has reached her first Grand Slam final since being stabbed in December 2016, battling for the world number one ranking.

Defeat ended 26-year-old Pliskova's hopes of reaching her second Grand Slam final and setting up a first all-Czech final against her Fed Cup team-mate.

Pliskova admitted her remarkable comeback against Serena Williams on Wednesday may have taken its toll, saying: "It's not only that the match yesterday was tough, but also it was emotionally tough, too.

"I was missing maybe a little bit of power. But she played an unbelievable match, maybe the best in her life. I don't think she can repeat a match like this."