US Open champion Naomi Osaka managed to keep a lid on her simmering temper and powered to a 6-4 6-1 win over Elina Svitolina on Wednesday to book a spot in the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time.
The 21-year-old, who will play Karolina Pliskova for a place in the final, committed a string of unforced errors but still proved too strong for the sixth-seeded Ukrainian.
Osaka wrapped up the win in an hour and 12 minutes to become the first Japanese woman to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since Kimiko Date in 1994.
Osaka’s first Grand Slam triumph at the US Open last year was overshadowed by a row between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos but there will be no rematch of that match at Melbourne Park.
Williams, a 23-times major winner, squandered four match points and blew a 5-1 lead in the decider to fall to seventh seed Pliskova 6-4 4-6 7-5 in the last quarter-final of the women’s draw.
“I have played her (Pliskova) a couple times already. She’s really tough to play,” said Osaka. “I can barely read her serve, so it’s very difficult for me. I see now that she doesn’t hit too many unforced errors, which is a little bit dangerous.”
Osaka said Pliskova always seemed to stay calm on court, something she struggles with. “For me, today, I had one goal – it was to try as hard as I can and not get angry. I didn’t do that well in the past two rounds, but I played well today,” she added.