The 2021 Australian Open women's final will feature a firmly established superstar taking on a first-time Grand Slam finalist in the midst of the best run of her career.
Third-seeded Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams to punch her ticket to the final, where she will meet an American in No. 22 Jennifer Brady, who outlasted another dark horse in the semifinals in Karolina Muchova.
Osaka is in search of her second career Aussie Open title and fourth Grand Slam title overall, while Brady is in search of what would be a career-defining win.
Here is everything you need to know about when and where to watch the 2021 Australian Open women's final on Saturday.
Where: Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia
When: Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3:30 a.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN+
Osaka's Road to the Final
Given her status as arguably the best women's player in the world, Osaka was widely expected to make it to this point.
While her third-round exit in last year's Australian Open was a disappointment, Osaka won the tournament in 2019 and bounced back to win the U.S. Open last year.
The draw looked like a tough one on paper for Osaka, but she mostly breezed through it without much of an issue.
Her biggest challenge came in the fourth round against two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza. Osaka dropped the first set, but she battled back to win the second and then outlasted the Spaniard 7-5 in the decisive third set.
Osaka would later face No. 10 Serena Williams in the semifinals, and while Serena looked like a major challenge on paper, Osaka didn't have much issue against arguably the greatest player of all time.
The Japanese star breezed past Williams in straight sets and ended a two-match losing streak against her in the process.
If any current player is going to go on a Serena-esque run during their career, Osaka looks like the one who is most likely to pull it off.
She has to take advantage of her opportunities to win Grand Slams whenever she gets them in order to reach that level, however, and that means beating a lower-ranked player in Brady.
Brady's Road to the Final
Brady was far from a lock to get to this point, but there were high hopes surrounding her considering what she accomplished last year.
The 25-year-old American had never made it past the fourth round at a Grand Slam entering last year, and things didn't necessarily get off to an ideal start, as she was ousted in the first round of the 2020 Aussie Open.
Brady regrouped, though, and experienced a huge breakthrough later in the year by reaching the semifinals of the 2020 U.S. Open.
It was there that Brady fell to Osaka, but she pushed her to three sets, which lends some hope that she will have a chance Saturday.
It would be something of an understatement to call Brady's Australian Open draw advantageous, as she only had to face two seeded players en route to the finals, with the highest-ranked one being Muchova in the semis at No. 25.
Brady easily advanced through the first four rounds before finally getting challenged in the quarterfinals by her close friend Jessica Pegula. After Pegula won the first set, Brady battled back to win it in three.
Brady also had to go the distance in the semis, as she took the first set from Muchova before dropping the second. The American then showed nerves of steel, winning 6-4 in the third to advance and exorcise the demons of the three-set loss in the U.S. Open semis last year.
While Brady faces by far her toughest test of the tournament in Osaka, she is now battle-tested after hard-fought wins in the quarters and semis.
Saturday will mark only the fourth-ever meeting between Osaka and Brady, but it will be the second consecutive year in which they have met in a high-pressure Grand Slam match.
Osaka prevailed last year in the U.S. Open, and she owns a 2-1 head-to-head lead over Brady in her career.
Brady won their first meeting way back in 2014, and Osaka then beat Brady on clay in 2018. Both of them were different players then compared to now, meaning last year's U.S. Open matchup is likely the most relevant one to Saturday's clash.
Many players struggle to match Osaka's power, but that likely won't be an issue for the hard-serving Brady, meaning the match may simply come down to who makes fewer mistakes.
Given Osaka's experience in huge matches compared to Brady's lack thereof, one can only assume that nerves won't be an issue for the No. 3 seed.
Brady almost certainly gained a great deal of confidence in getting to this point, but Osaka's perfect record in Grand Slam finals counts for something.
Prediction: Osaka wins in straight sets