“Serena had her chances…but Naomi was able to stand with her,” former World No.1 talks about Osaka-Williams AO 2021 match

“Serena had her chances…but Naomi was able to stand with her,” former World No.1 talks about Osaka-Williams AO 2021 match

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka

Dinara Safina is a former World no.1 from Russia who has an Olympic silver medal, twelve WTA trophies and three Grand slam Final appearances. Having retired from the sport in 2014, the now thirty four year old is working as a player relations liaison at both the ATP and WTA tournaments at the St. Petersburg Open.

Safina, who is also the sister of former men’s world no.1 Marat Safina, still watches tennis intently and is an admirer of Naomi Osaka. Safina was especially impressed by the way Osaka managed Serena Williams in the Semi Finals of the Australian Open 2021. Williams one might recall was a great rival of Safina in her playing days.

Talking in depth about the match, Safina says that as soon as the match used to get to an even kill, Osaka used to elevate her level. Safina thinks Osaka knew Serena couldn’t keep up with her level of tennis for three hours. Safina believes that your real personality comes out in the tough moments, either a player goes for it or starts to doubt. That day, Naomi Osaka went for it and booked a place in the Finals of the Australian open. 

Dinara Safina says, “Serena had her chances a little bit in the first set, but once the match got on even ground, Naomi increased her level. Serena was playing unbelievable, but Naomi was able to stay with her.” 

Safina continued, “She could understand that Serena was playing her best tennis, but be confident enough to know she couldn’t keep it up. I could sense that she was like, ‘I can play my best for three hours; can you handle my level for that long?’

Safina concluded “I think it’s all about personality in these tough moments. Either you love it, or you don’t. Either you’ll go for it, or start to doubt.”

Naomi Osaka in the 2021 Australian Summer

Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2021
Naomi Osaka Australian Open 2021

Osaka started the Summer on a bright note as she reached the Semifinals of the Murray River Open. The US Open champion decided she will rest and not play the match. So Osaka moved to the actual Australian Open. At the open, Osaka faced her first seeded rival in the Third round.

Twenty seventh seed Ons Jabeur, who she defeated 6-3 6-2. Her next big test and probably her toughest match of the tournament was in the fourth round against 14th seed Garbiñe Muguruza, she saved patch points to win the match 4-6 6-4 7-5. In the semifinals she overcame 10th seed Serena Williams and in the Finals beat 22nd seed Jennifer Brady to win her second Australian Open trophy 2021.

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