Navratilova: Osaka has the look of a champion

Martina Navratilova feels Naomi Osaka has taken her game to another level since winning her maiden major title at Flushing Meadows.

Martina Navratilova feels Naomi Osaka has “the look of a champion” as she prepares to try and deny the “unreal” Petra Kvitova an incredible Australian Open triumph.

Osaka became the first woman in the Open Era to win her first grand slam title at the US Open and follow it up with a run to the final of the Australian Open the following year by beating Karolina Pliskova in the last four.

The courageous Kvitova toppled Danielle Collins to reach her first major decider since suffering career-threatening wounds to her playing hand when she was attacked by a knife-wielding intruder in her apartment just over two years ago.

The winner of Saturday’s final on Rod Laver Arena will become world number one for the first time and the legendary Navratilova believes Japanese sensation Osaka will take some stopping.

Navratilova said in her WTA column: “Petra Kvitova will be the sentimental favourite in Saturday’s Australian Open final.

“For Kvitova to be playing this well after everything that has happened to her and having to come back from the physical and emotional trauma of that incident, is just unreal.

“But she will find it very tough to beat Naomi Osaka, who has been playing the best tennis of her career while seemingly improving her game on a daily basis.

“Over her last couple of matches in Melbourne, against Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals and then against Karolina Pliskova in the last four, Osaka has had the look of a champion – she has been handling the pressure beautifully.

“In my mind, her performance against Pliskova, which saw her hit 56 winners, was better than the tennis she played to defeat Serena Williams in last year’s US Open final to take her first grand slam. So that tells you just how well she is playing, hitting her best form when it matters most.

“Whatever happens on Rod Laver Arena, there will be a popular champion, as there’s an unbelievable storyline on both sides of the net.”

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