TOKYO, Japan - For the second time in three years, Naomi Osaka will play for a trophy on home soil.
The US Open champion and Japanese No.1 ousted Italy's Camila Giorgi in Saturday's semifinals to return to the championship match at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, 6-2, 6-3.
Osaka reached her first career final in Tokyo two years ago, where she finished runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki at the Ariake Coliseum - but much has changed for the Japanese No.1 not only in the past 24 months, but in the past three weeks.
She is now on a 10-match winning streak dating back to the start of the year's final Grand Slam in August.
"The way that she plays, if she's on, it would ve almost impossible to beat her," Osaka assessed after the match. "I know that she has those matches, and the only thing that I could do is play as well as I can and hope for the best.
"I knew that once I hit any short ball or any ball without that much speed, she was going to try to go for it. I think that we have two completely different games, and mine just happened to win today."
The World No.7 recorded her third straight sets victory of the week in the Japanese capital, breaking the Italian's serve twice in each set to seal a spot in her third final of the season in just 71 minutes.
Osaka hammered nine aces over the course of the victory, and dropped just eight points in eight service games over the course of the match.
"I think [my serve] got me out of a lot of trouble today," Osaka said on-court after the match. "She was playing well, and I served well. I really wanted to get to the final."
Having not dropped a set over the course of her week, Osaka will next face a player who's needed three dramatic sets in each of her matches to reach her second final of the season: No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova.
Osaka's serving prowess was on display early in the opening set, as she dropped just two points in four service games in her first-ever set against the Italian No.1.
The No.3 seed ran off the last five games of the first set, and won 12 of the last 13 points played on her serve en route to wrapping up the first set in just over 30 minutes.
The second set unfolded in similar fashion, with Giorgi keeping the pressure on early by holding in her first two service games.
However, three straight games went Osaka's way in the middle portion of the set, as she broke in a key fifth game on her third opportunity before breaking for a final time from 40-15 down to wrap up the match.
Osaka and Pliskova will face off for the third time overall and second this year with a Premier-level title on the line on Sunday.
Osaka earned a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the Czech in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in March, en route to winning her first career title.