The first final of the first Slam of the season is upon us – how does Jennifer Brady match up to three-time Slam champion Naomi Osaka match
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Naomi Osaka will bid for a second Australian Open title, while Jennifer Brady bids for her maiden major – how do they stack up by the numbers?
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It has been a bumpy road at times with the back-drop of a global pandemic, quarantine and hard lockdown, but the women’s final is a line-up few would have predicted, between Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady.
Head to Head
Naomi Osaka 
Jennifer Brady 
Brady’s only win over Osaka came in 2014 at the ITF levels, and so moving forward and seeing now their careers have progressed since then, it probably does not really count for much. Both players have grown a lot since then, but there is no doubt Osaka comes in as a massive favourite just on her experience of Slam finals alone.
Osaka has continued to collect Slams and is currently 3-0 in Slam finals, which is a very impressive record, and quite the mountain to climb for Brady.
Year to Date/Career W/L Record (Source: WTA Match Notes)
All surfaces W/L
9-0 / 145-73
9-2 / 60-57
9-0 / 115-50
9-2 / 51-38
It is worth nothing that in the initial chaos of positive tests from the charter flights coming from Abu Dhabi, Brady is the only player who was placed in a hard lockdown still standing and in a Slam final, no less. At the very least we would say this splits the advantage, as it has been an impressive run of form considering how many players lost conditioning even in quarantine.
Osaka has yet to be to be taken to a tie-break this season.
Both have had a few battles this season, with Brady splitting wins and losses so far this year
Osaka’s serve gives her plenty of free points, but does lend itself to more double-faults, but across serve and return stats over the tournament, there is little to separate them, perhaps with the slightest edge going to Osaka.
For many, the semi-final between Osaka and Serena Williams was the de facto final. Osaka is a quite different player to the one who had to endure the boos of an American crowd after she defeated Williams at the US Open, and indeed the player who had to leave the court and compose themselves against Petra Kvitova for her first Australian Open title.
She said, in her pre-final press conference: “I think for me match experience definitely helped me out. For me, this tournament I honestly haven’t felt panicked until I played Muguruza, so I think that match really helped me.
“Then I told myself to erase those thoughts and just to, like, in a way I was telling myself I don’t care because I can only play one point at a time and I’m going to try my best to play every point as well as I can.
“I think I fight the hardest in the finals. I think that’s where you sort of set yourself apart. It’s the other person won as many matches as you did. It’s something that I think — I don’t know, it’s like the biggest fight.”
With regards to facing Brady, who will be playing in her first major final, she said: “I played Brady in the semis of the US Open. It’s easily one of my most memorable matches. I think it was just super high quality throughout.
“For me, it’s not really surprising at all to see her in another semis or another finals. It’s definitely going to be really tough if I do play her.”
Brady has been aware of Osaka since they were playing in juniors, and it has taken a little longer for her to get to this point, and she is under no illusions of the challenge that lays ahead when she steps out onto court for a first major.
She said: “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 gonna be moments, there’s gonna be games, there’s gonna be points where I’m going to be thinking about, Wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title.
“Yeah, I will definitely have those thoughts. But it’s more just trying to control the emotions, really. Yeah, I think we both played a really good semi-final match at the US Open. Unfortunately there were no fans, but the next time we play there will be fans. So I think that’s going to be something that’s going to be extremely exciting.”
Prediction: Osaka in three sets.
The Australian Open women’s singles final takes place on 20 February, at 7:30pm (8:30am GMT)
Who will win the Australian Open Women’s Singles Final
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