Photo: Getty Images
Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka will play her first final since the Australian Open last year after winning against Belinda Bencic on Thursday. She is set to compete with incoming world no. 1 Iga Swiatek at the Miami Open final.
After struggling with her matches following her break from the sport, Osaka managed to recover to defeat Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the semifinal.
“(I was) just battling my inner thoughts and trying to know that I must play one point at a time and adjust if I have to but try not to overwhelm myself with my thoughts,” she told reporters.
“I feel like if I was negative for a split second, I would have lost the match today.
“I have to keep pumping myself up and I haven’t played as many matches as a lot of these other players, so I just have to keep learning.”
At the Indian Wells last month, a spectator yelled “Naomi, you suck!” at Osaka in her second-round match with Veronika Kudermetova.
The heckling shook Osaka. She lost the first set 6-0 and the rest of the match in straight sets.
Osaka confirmed that she has been seeing a therapist to deal with her mental health after suffering periods of depression last year.
But now Osaka is finding her form again and facing an unfamiliar opponent.
Osaka only previously met Swiatek in a match in 2019, which Osaka won in straight sets. But, on Monday, Swiatek will be the women’s world no. 1 as she continues her 16-match winning streak.
The final will be held on Saturday, and Osaka has said she is looking forward to getting back on the court.
“Man idk what’s going on but I’m just so grateful right now,” she tweeted. “Cheers to the ups and downs of life for making me appreciate this moment even more.
“We’re back in a final, see you on Saturday.”