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Tennis star Naomi Osaka is set to play her first final since the Australian Open last year after winning against Belinda Bencic on Thursday. Next, she will play incoming world no. 1 Iga Swiatek at the Miami Open final.
After struggling to revive her form following her break from the sport, the four-time grand slam champion 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 heckled at Osaka, yelling “Naomi, you suck!” in her second-round match with Veronika Kudermetova.
The incident shook Osaka, and she lost the first set 6-0 and the rest of the match in straight sets.
Osaka revealed that she has been seeing a therapist to deal with her mental health after suffering episodes of depression last year.
But now Osaka is finding her form again and facing an unfamiliar opponent.
Osaka and Swiatek faced off in a match only once before, in 2019 where Osaka won in straight sets. 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.”