January 25, 2019 / 9:07 AM / a month ago

Factbox: Naomi Osaka versus Petra Kvitova

(Reuters) - A look at the records of Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova before their title clash at the Australian Open on Saturday (prefix number denotes seeding):

Tennis - Australian Open - Semi-final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 24, 2019. Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts during match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova. REUTERS/Aly Song

4-NAOMI OSAKA

Age: 21

WTA Ranking: 4

WTA titles: 2

Coach: Sasha Bajin

Grand Slam titles: 1 (U.S. Open 2018)

2018 Australian Open performance: Fourth round

Best Australian Open performance: Final (2019)

Road to final:

First round: beat Magda Linette (Poland) 6-4 6-2

Second round: beat Tamara Zidansek (Slovenia) 6-2 6-4

Third round: beat Hsieh Su-Wei (Taiwan) 5-7 6-4 6-1

Fourth round: beat 13-Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) 4-6 6-3 6-4

Quarter-finals: beat 6-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6-4 6-1

Semi-finals: beat 7-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-2 4-6 6-4

The U.S. Open champion was forged in fire at Flushing Meadows and has relied on the confidence that comes with winning a Grand Slam to dismiss rivals at the Australian Open.

While she has polished her reputation as one of the cleanest strikers of the ball in women’s tennis during her Melbourne run, Osaka has also shown that she has the stomach for a fight when things are not going her way.

Having reached the final in consecutive Grand Slams, Osaka meets double Wimbledon champion Kvitova for the first time in her career in what is now a face-off for the number one ranking in women’s tennis.

Osaka has matched Kvitova for aggression although she has not been as dominant in the tournament, but it is the Japanese player’s endurance and composure that could help her prevail.

8-PETRA KVITOVA

Age: 28

WTA Ranking: 6

WTA titles: 26

Coach: Jiri Vanek

Grand Slam titles: 2 (Wimbledon 2011, 2014)

2018 Australian Open performance: First round

Best Australian Open performance: Final (2019)

Road to final:

First round: beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-3 6-2

Second round: beat Irina-Camelia Begu (Romania) 6-1 6-3

Third round: beat Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) 6-1 6-4

Fourth round: beat Amanda Anisimova (U.S.) 6-2 6-1

Quarter-finals: beat 15-Ashleigh Barty (Australia) 6-1 6-4

Semi-finals: beat Danielle Collins (U.S.) 7-6(2) 6-0

Two years after missing the Australian Open while recovering from a knife attack by a home intruder, Kvitova is now one match away from the title and a third Grand Slam trophy of her career.

Tennis - Australian Open - Semi-final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 24, 2019. Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova waves after winning match against Danielle Collins of the U.S. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Having overcome the physical injury and the mental scars it left, the Czech is finally playing with the freedom and belief that made her one of the most effective players on the women’s tour en route to two Wimbledon titles.

Appearing leaner and stronger than before, the left-hander has mowed down opponents without dropping a set at Melbourne to enter her first hard court Grand Slam final on an 11-match winning streak.

Kvitova’s chances could hinge on her killer serve and powerful forehand as Osaka is likely to have the edge in longer rallies.

Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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