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Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka will now play incoming world no. 1 Iga Swiatek at the Miami Open final after beating Belinda Bencic on Thursday.
This marks Osaka’s first final since the Australian Open last year.
Having struggled for form since her hiatus from the sport, Osaka recovered to beat 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.”
Osaka was heckled by a spectator at the Indian Wells last month, who yelled “Naomi, you suck!” in her second-round match with Veronika Kudermetova.
This shook Osaka, and she lost the match in straight sets.
After revealing that she had suffered bouts of depression last year, Osaka has confirmed seeing a therapist to deal with her mental health.
But now Osaka is finding her form again and facing an unfamiliar opponent.
Osaka had previously met Swiatek once before in a match, with Osaka winning straight sets in 2019. However, 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.”