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Tennis - 23. January 2019.

Osaka overpowers ailing Svitolina

Naomi Osaka doesn’t get what all the fuss is about, boasting of being able to walk around Melbourne without anybody so much as blinking an eye at the newest grand slam champion.

But after reaching her first Australian Open semifinal with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina on Wednesday, that could all be able to change for the self-proclaimed “normal” Japanese star.

Not since Kim Clijsters reached the semifinals at Australian Open 2006 had a first-time slam winner gone on to progress as far at their subsequent major.

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Osaka is the first Japanese woman into an AO semi since 1994!

The 21-year-old remained on course to become the first woman since Jennifer Capriati at Roland Garros 2001 to win her first two majors back-to-back.

“This is something that I have been working on a lot … trying to get deeper in tournaments more consistently. I think I have been able to do that,” Osaka said. “For me right now I just try to keep looking forward. So I'm not really satisfied – like, I am happy that I'm here, but at the same time, I want to keep going. There is more matches to win.”

Osaka’s star rose in a hurry after defeating Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final, and should Williams defeat Karolina Pliskova to book a rematch in the semifinals at Melbourne Park, the hype surrounding Osaka will only surge.

Svitolina had won three of the pair’s five prior meetings, including both in 2018, in Miami and Dubai.

But on Wednesday, it was a more patient and composed Osaka who pulled clear against a fading opponent carrying a neck and right shoulder injury.

Yeah I mean I tried to be consistent or as consistent as I can,” Osaka said. “She’s a really great player and kind of unfortunate she got injured … but playing against her injured was still really tough.

“For me today I just had one goal and it was to try as hard as I can and not get angry. Didn’t do that too well in the last two rounds so I’m really happy.”

Heading into the match, both women stood a chance at climbing to No.1 in the new rankings after the tournament.

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