Naomi Osaka returns a ball during her semifinal match against Serena Williams in Melbourne on Thursday. – AP/PTI

MELBOURNE, Feb 18: American 22nd seed Jennifer Brady reached her first Grand Slam final on Thursday after beating 25th seed Czech Karolina Muchova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in an Australian Open semi-final encounter that lasted nearly two hours.

She faces Naomi Osaka in the final as the Japanese beat 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams earlier in the day.

Muchova saved as many as five match points off Brady’s serve in the final game. Brady raced to a 30-0 lead and then got to her first match point at 40-15. However, Muchova then won the next three points consecutively before Brady held to make it deuce for the first time in the game.

The pair then exchanged advantages over the next nine points before Muchova hit a return long, giving Brady the victory.

“I think it will be a really tough match against Naomi Osaka. She’s won a few Grand Slams, and we had a really great battle at the US Open, in the semi-final. I’m just going to hang with my team now, spend some quality time, do some recovery work and have a good gym session,” Brady said.

World No.3 Osaka will be playing in her second Australian Open final after winning the title in 2019. In the one hour and 15 minutes-match, Osaka rebounded from a poor start to beat ‘her idol’ Serena Williams in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to book her place in the Australian Open final. – IANS