Naomi Osaka has derailed Serena Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in a storm of power hitting, humbling the American great 6-3 6-4 to reach her second Australian Open final.
In a rematch of their tumultuous 2018 US Open decider, Osaka underlined her status as the new queen of women's tennis and soaked up the cheers from the Rod Laver Arena crowd, as fans returned to the tournament after a five-day lockdown.
"I did a lot of unforced errors in the first few games," says Osaka. "I was really nervous and scared in the beginning, and then I sort of eased my way into it.
"It's just always an honour to play her and I just didn't want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best."
Williams broke Osaka in the opening game, but the Japanese third seed reeled off five straight games in a devastating display, before closing out the set with a blazing forehand winner.
Osaka took Williams' serve in the first game of the second set and would not let up, until she wobbled with three double-faults to allow the American to break back to 4-4.
But Williams repaid the favour, with a double-fault on the next service game giving Osaka three break points.
Osaka converted the first, then closed out the match, when Williams thudded into the net.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Brady has ensured an American would contest the Australian Open final, after Williams' exit, by downing Karolina Muchova 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the semi-finals.
On a stifling afternoon at Rod Laver Arena, former college player Brady dug herself out of a mid-match hole to reach her first Grand Slam decider and a daunting title clash with three-time major champion Naomi Osaka.
Seeded 22nd, Brady ensured the United States would have another finalist, a year after Sofia Kenin upset Garbine Muguruza for the 2020 championship.
Brady saw four match points slip through her fingers as she served it out nervously, but finally celebrated the win, when Muchova fired a forehand long.