Naomi Osaka’s perfect record in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches was extended Tuesday. The No.3 seed eased past Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2 to reach the Australian Open semifinals.
"Today it was really important to have a plan, just because she's an opponent that I'm not really sure what's going to happen," Osaka said in her post-match press conference. "So just having something to structure myself and not get carried away with what she's going to do was definitely really important."
Osaka next has a showdown with Serena Williams, who took out Simona Halep in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Osaka leads that series 2-1.
"[Serena is] someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court," Osaka said in press before Williams took the court Tuesday.
Osaka is two wins away from a fourth Grand Slam title after her breezy 66-minute victory on Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka, 23, had reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals before Australia, and on each of those occasions she went on to win the title, including at the 2019 Australian Open, as well as at the 2018 and 2020 US Opens.
Osaka clinched her 12th straight victory at Grand Slam tournaments without being broken on the day. She fired 24 winners to just 14 unforced errors. It was a much different story than their meeting in Melbourne two years ago, where Osaka had to survive a three-set tussle against Hsieh during her title-winning run.
"I feel like every time I play her, it's really challenging because I never know exactly what she's going to do with the ball," Osaka said. "I think today I just really focused on my game plan. I think it was kind of very clear what I thought I had to do.
"I talked through it more. For me, I also feel like I've experienced, like, what it is like to play her in those tough battles, kind of how to avoid that situation."
Hsieh was making her Grand Slam singles quarterfinal debut in her 38th major main-draw appearance, and at age 35 is the oldest player in the Open Era (since 1968) to have made it this deep in a major for the first time. Her wily play, complete with double-handed groundstrokes off of both wings, could not maneuver her past Osaka. Hsieh, the current doubles World No.1, was undone by 23 unforced errors during the affair.
"This is what happens in tennis," Hsieh told the press after the match. "Sometimes you are not taking the chance, you lose the point, then maybe you lose the match. This is what happened. I hope next time I do better."
Osaka had to face three break points during her first three service games, but the No.3 seed fended each of Hsieh’s attacks off with her strong serve. During that span, Osaka was able to attain her first break by slamming a backhand winner down the line to move to a 3-1 lead in the opener.
Osaka would not face another break point for the rest of the day and calmly broke Hsieh once more to close out the opening set 6-2.
Four of their five previous meetings had gone to three sets, but Osaka rolled to a commanding 4-1 lead in the second.
Hsieh staved off Osaka’s first two match points at 5-2, and in fact reached game point to extend the encounter, but a powerful service return gave Osaka a third chance in that game, which she converted after forcing a long error from Hsieh.
"I felt like today I told myself just to be really intense from the beginning," Osaka said. "I played her so many times, I felt like I knew what to expect and that I couldn't afford to be lazy with my footwork or anything. I didn't want to play three sets today."
we going into the semis ☺️✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/2BSGDneE1D— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) February 16, 2021