Sport Australian Open: Jennifer Brady defies lockdown to set up final against Naomi Osaka

Australian Open: Jennifer Brady defies lockdown to set up final against Naomi Osaka

United States' Jennifer Brady reflects during her semi-final against Karolina Muchova on Thursday. Photo: AP
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Jennifer Brady’s legs were shaking and her heart racing after the American overcame Karolina Muchova and two weeks in hard quarantine to set up an Australian Open final showdown with Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka.

It will be Brady’s first grand slam final after the 25-year-old stopped Czech Karolina Muchova 6-4 3-6 6-4 in Thursday’s thrilling second semi-final at Melbourne Park.

Third-seeded Osaka earlier ousted seven-time champion Serena Williams 6-3 6-4 in the first semi.

“I can’t feel my legs,” Brady said after needing four match points to put Muchova away.

“My legs are shaking, my heart is racing – I don’t have words.

“I’m obviously pretty excited to be in the final of the Australian Open,”

Brady described making the final at Melbourne Park as an “incredible achievement”.

But it’s all the more incredible after she was one of 51 players in the Open singles draw to be confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days after being on infected charter flights into Melbourne.

“It will be a really tough match, obviously, as she’s won a few grand slams,” Brady said ahead of her fourth career meeting with Osaka, who she lost to in three sets in last year’s US Open semi-finals.

“We had a tough match at the US Open in the semi-finals and she even said it was one of her top two matches, which was unfortunate for me.

“I think it will be a really good match.”

Ranked 24th in the world, that semi-final run at Flushing Meadows was Brady’s previous best performance at a major.

Big-serving Brady looked in control early against giant-killer Muchova, who’d upset world No.1 Ash Barty in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

But Brady, who is Barty’s doubles partner, did what the Australian couldn’t do and resisted a Muchova fightback.

It wasn’t easy with Brady’s unforced error count through two sets hitting 30 as she lost her way.

Brady’s frustration was evident as she kicked the ball away after the 25th-seeded Muchova took second set.

Brady got the jump early in the third set, crucially breaking Muchova to lead 2-1.

The pair went toe to toe and Brady, serving for the match at 5-4, almost prematurely celebrated when Muchova’ dumped a backhand in the net on her second match point.

Instead, the electronic line caller found Brady’s previous forehand to have flown millimetres over the baseline.

In the gripping final game, Brady was then forced to save three break points as the steely Czech held on, before the American got the result on her fifth match point.