Serena Williams' pursuit of her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie Margaret Court for tennis' all-time record, headlines the women's semifinals in the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Williams will face off with three-time major champion Naomi Osaka in the first semifinal Thursday (Wednesday night in the U.S.). The second match is going to feature two players seeking their first Grand Slam championship, Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova.
Let's check out all of the important information for the penultimate round. That's followed by a closer look at each of the matchups.
Women's Semifinal Viewing Details
Where: Melbourne Park in Australia
When: Thursday at 2 p.m. AEDT (10 p.m. ET Wednesday in the U.S.)
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
(3) Osaka vs. (10) Williams
Williams may be rounding into peak form at the perfect time. She's coming off an impressive straight-sets triumph over second-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals that saw her win 77 percent of her first-serve points against one of the sport's best defensive players.
"I definitely think this is the best match I've played this tournament for sure," Williams told reporters. "Obviously I had to, going up against the No. 2 in the world. I knew I had to do better and that's what I did."
She'll likely need to take another step up in order to get past Osaka, who's never lost a major where she at least reached the quarterfinals.
The 23-year-old Japanese standout was nothing short of terrific in her dominant win over Su-Wei Hsieh in the quarters. She held significant advances in winners (24-14) and aces (7-0) while generating 12 break-point chances and fending off all three Hsieh earned.
Osaka has presented a unique challenge for Williams because it's been rare throughout the 39-year-old American's career that she's faced someone who can consistently match her powerful groundstrokes. There were even moments in their first three official meetings where Osaka controlled the pace.
The 2019 Australian Open champion won two of those prior WTA Tour matchups, though Williams won their most recent encounter in the 2019 Toronto quarterfinals.
This will be the match of the tournament, and the winner will be the clear favorite heading into the final regardless of who emerges from the second semifinal.
(22) Brady vs. (25) Muchova
Muchova's tournament run appeared over when top-seeded Ashleigh Barty, an Australian native, took the opening set of their quarterfinal, 6-1. The first-time major semifinalist fought back, though, scoring the upset by taking advantage of mistakes.
Barty, who had just six unforced errors in the first set, racked up 31 over the next two sets, and Muchova translated that into four breaks and the win.
The comeback came after a medical timeout for the No. 25 seed, who started to feel dizzy on court.
"They just checked my [blood] pressure because I was a bit lost, you know? I was spinning. So they cooled me down a bit with ice, and it helped me," Muchova said. "[After returning, I] just tried to put a ball in and go for it. Played a bit faster, going to the net. I think that was the key by the end."
Brady also fought back from dropping the opening set to fellow American Jessica Pegula in her quarterfinal before completely taking control over the final two sets.
The biggest difference was harnessing her power, dropping from 17 unforced errors in the opening set to 12 combined over the next two to oust Pegula, who had opened the event with an upset of two-time Aussie Open champ Victoria Azarenka.
Expect her to learn from those final two sets as she prepares to face Muchova, who can bring a little more pace than Pegula but presents a similar challenge with her ability to win long rallies.
Don't be surprised if this match isn't decided until deep in the third set. A lopsided victory by either player would be quite a statement heading into the final since they're evenly matched on paper.