Petra Kvitova and Naomi Osaka set for Melbourne showdown


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Petra Kvitova is back in a Grand Slam final aiming to complete an amazing comeback by winning the Australian Open final on Saturday.

Kvitova defeated Danielle Collins 7-6 6-0 before US Open champion Naomi Osaka beat Karolina Pliskova 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the final four in Melbourne.

Qualifying for a Grand Slam final represents a major achievement for Kvitova, just over two years after she needed hand surgery having been the victim in a knife attack.

“I don’t think that many people believed that I could do that again, to stand on the court and play tennis to that kind of level,” she said.

“It was just a few of them, I think. I’m very happy to have those few around me. And it definitely feels great – I hope for them as well, and for my family and everyone who was there when I needed it.”

Kvitova has twice won Wimbledon and, last victorious at the All-England Club in 2014, she desperately wants another Grand Slam on her CV.

“It’s been five years. That’s why I worked hard to be back here,” she added.

Japanese-born Osaka will be contesting her second Grand Slam final after winning the US Open last year, memorably turning over odds-on favourite Serena Williams in New York.

She fired 56 winners past Pliskova, who had previously eliminated Williams in the last eight, further denying the American a 24th Grand Slam crown. Adding to the intrigue, the Australian Open winner will also be installed as the new world number one from Monday.

Kvitova is favourite at 1.75 to win, with Osaka 2.05 to make it back-to-back Grand Slam wins.

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