Naomi Osaka fought back tears after booking her seat in the Miami Open final.
The Japanese defeated Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-3 6-4 to progress and now meets soon-to-be world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in her first WTA Tour final in more than a year.
Osaka struggled to contain her feelings and addressed the huge cheering from the crowd in her post-game interview.
“Damn, I’m almost crying,” Osaka said.
“This tournament means a lot to me. It’s my first time here in the final and I’m really grateful.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in a final – I think it was last year’s Australian Open – so thank you guys, I really love you guys with all my heart.”
When asked how she defeated her opponent, she added: “Honestly, I don’t think I understood her at all. I hit some really good serves and she only hit winners.
“I felt like all I could really do is keep fighting and somehow I managed to win. She’s an amazing player and I wish I had her back!’
The world No. 77 appears to be on course to return to her best tennis after slipping down the rankings in recent months after struggling with her mental health.
Just last month, Osaka was brought to tears by a spectator as she lost in straight sets to Veronika Kudermetova in Indian Wells.
The 24-year-old, who was only playing her third event since a break in September to focus on her mental health, was taunted in the second game of the game after losing her first game of service.
During a break in play before Kudermetova was due to serve in game two, a female spectator was clearly heard in the crowd yelling, “Naomi, you shit.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/04/01/naomi-osaka-fights-back-tears-after-reaching-miami-open-final-16389904/ Naomi Osaka fights back tears after reaching the Miami Open final