Osaka eyes 4th Slam title in Australian Open final vs Brady

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Japan's Naomi Osaka, left, is congratulated by United States' Serena Williams after winning their semifinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Whether or not Naomi Osaka claims the Australian Open championship — and make no mistake, she will be expected to win — this much seems certain: Tennis has a new dominant force.

Sure, it’s clearly possible that Osaka could be beaten by the 22nd-seeded American Jennifer Brady in the title match at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

Brady is, after all, emerging as a force on hard courts, too, thanks to a big serve and big forehand. She pushed Osaka to three sets before losing to her in the U.S. Open semifinals last September, then shrugged off a two-week hard quarantine in Australia to reach her first Grand Slam final.

It is the No. 3-seeded Osaka, though, who overpowered and overwhelmed Serena Williams in the semifinals Thursday.

Who is riding a 20-match winning streak dating to last season.

Who already has spent time at No. 1 in the rankings.

Who is seeking her second Australian Open title and fourth Slam trophy — and she is still only 23.

Like 23-time major champion Williams, there is a determination that Osaka manages to display when the finish line is near on their sport's most important stages: She has run her record to a combined 11-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.