Australian Open 2021 Semi-Final: Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka Preview, Prediction and Head-to-Head

Published 02/17/2021, 2:34 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during her quarter final match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Call it the final before the final as Serena Williams goes to battle against admirer-turned-rival Naomi Osaka in the first women’s semifinal at the Australian Open on Thursday.


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Aside from their off-court camaraderie which was yet again in evidence during the exhibition tie in Adelaide where they were pictured exchanging pleasantries between points and after the game, Serena and Osaka make one of the fiercest rivalries in contemporary women’s tennis.

Naomi Osaka of Japan cries after winning the Women’s Singles finals match alongside runner up Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

So, as they square up against each other at the Melbourne Park for the salivating last-four clash, expect nothing less than a bruising battle with not a quarter yielded on either side.


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There’s nothing to separate the two players or put one above the other if one does a cursory study of their head-to-head record.

Serena and Naomi Osaka are tied 2-2 in four head-to-head meetings

Serena and Osaka are currently tied at 2-2 in four head-to-head meetings, which means that neither will start as a clear favorite in Thursday’s showdown.

It will possibly come down to who brings the superior game to the park on the given day and lands more punches on the other, to use a boxing parlance.

Given that the World Number 3 grew up watching Serena in action and considers the 39-year-old as her idol, Osaka’s game has more than a snatch of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her fourth round match against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The Japanese has a powerful serve, much like the American, and likes to outmuscle her opponents into submission with powerful groundstrokes and aggressive forays into the net, again a trait straight out of the Serena playbook.

So it will be a case of two players pitting a similar set of skills against each other as Serena and Osaka renew their rivalry at the Melbourne Park on Thursday.

Serena Williams beat Naomi Osaka in their only Grand Slam meeting at US Open

Both players have had fairly similar passages to the last-four of the year’s Major, with close battles and commanding wins along the way.

Serena was tested by a feisty Aryna Sabalenka, with the Belarussian even taking a set off her in the fourth-round tie. 

However, the American summoned her inner strength and mental toughness to eventually come out on the winning side.

Osaka, too, came back from a set down to get the better of two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza in Round-4. 

She even saved a match point in the deciding set on the way to scripting a memorable win.


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However, they registered dominant wins in the quarter-final wins – Serena overpowering Simona Halep and Osaka out-muscling the high-flying Hsieh Su-wei – to set up the last-four duel.

However, what will keep Osaka slightly ahead in the contest is that the only other time she played Serena in a Grand Slam, which is the 2018 US Open final, she won.


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While none would dare call the tie in favor of either player, tennis fans would be in for a sumptuous treat as the two of the game’s biggest rivals go head-to-head one more time at the Australian Open.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

828 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.