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Tuesday October 26th, 2021 6:46AM

The Latest: Osaka takes 1st set of Australian Open final

By The Associated Press
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on the Australian Open tennis tournament (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Naomi Osaka has taken the opening set of the Australian Open final against Jennifer Brady by a 6-4 score.

It was cooler than it’s been recently in Melbourne, with the temperature down below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and a breeze that made serve tosses difficult for both players, who would catch the ball instead of hit it and say, “Sorry!”

Osaka pulled out to a 3-1 lead with a love break with the help of two double-faults from Brady. But Brady broke right back in the next game and held for 3-all.

At 4-all, Brady used an on-the-run lob winner that she punctuated by waving her arms to request more noise from the crowd to earn a break point. Take that, and she would serve for the opening set.

But Osaka erased that with a cross-court forehand winner, and two errors by Brady made it 5-4. Osaka then broke to grab the set, helped by Brady’s double-fault and a netted forehand on a short ball to end it.

___

7:46 p.m.

Naomi Osaka of Japan and Jennifer Brady of the United States have started play in the Australian Open women’s final.

The third-seeded Osaka is bidding for her fourth Grand Slam title in Saturday's match.

One of those championships came at Melbourne Park in 2019. The other two were at the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020.

The 22nd-seeded Brady is playing in a major final for the first time at age 25.

She is from Pennsylvania and played college tennis at UCLA.

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5:30 p.m.

Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady are preparing to play in the Australian Open final.

The 23-year-old Osaka is seeking her fourth Grand Slam title.

The 25-year-old Brady is making her debut in a title match at a major tournament.

They are due on court at Rod Laver Arena at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. EST). The stadium is allowed to be at half capacity — about 7,500 fans — on Saturday after spectators were barred earlier in the tournament during a five-day COVID-19 lockdown.

Osaka is seeded No. 3 and is on a 20-match winning streak.

She is 3-0 in previous Grand Slam finals, winning the Australian Open in 2019 and the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020.

The 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year was born in Japan and moved to the United States when she was 3.

The 22nd-seeded Brady lost to Osaka in the U.S. Open semifinals last year. She is from Pennsylvania and played college tennis at UCLA.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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