Japan’s Naomi Osaka cemented her place as a superstar in the women’s game by defeating American Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final to win her fourth Grand Slam title.
Osaka, 23, was unbeaten in the Grand Finals after winning 6-4 6-3 in Melbourne.
Osaka overtook the first set when Brady, in her first Grand Slam final, pushed some glaring mistakes into the final.
The third seed seized control from that point on, leading 4-0 in the second set before clinching a deserved win.
Osaka has now won two Australian Open titles after also winning Melbourne Park in 2019, along with her other successes in the Grand Slams at the US Open in 2018 and 2020.
They have not suffered a defeat since February 2020, extending their winning streak to 21 matches.
Osaka’s face lit up with a broad smile, and she raised the racket over her head as she clinched the title on her first point of the match after Brady had been back for so long.
About 7,500 fans were allowed to watch the final at the Rod Laver Arena, and Osaka won the acclaim after winning the US Open behind closed doors.
“It feels great to have fans,” said Osaka as she grabbed the Daphne Akhurst Cup. “I played the last major tournament without fans, and having that energy means a lot.”
“I feel that playing Grand Slam is a privilege.”
Osaka is the first female player to win her first four Grand Slam finals since Monica Seles in 1991.
Osaka proves once again why she is seen as an “inspiration”
Speaking softly, Osaka has emerged as the sport’s biggest star in recent times and showed it yet again with another Grand Slam victory.
On the field, her clean hitting and clear-headed thinking have proven more than her opponents can handle.
Off the field, she has grown into one of the most marketable athletes in the world and found her voice to become a prominent social activist.
“I feel like the biggest thing I want to accomplish is playing long enough to play a girl who said I was once her favorite player,” said Osaka.
“I think that’s the coolest thing that could ever happen to me. I just think that’s the way sport moves forward.”
In the abigail’s speech, Brady said that Osaka was “an inspiration to all of us”.
“What you are doing for the game is amazing,” Brady said. “I hope you see the little girls and be inspired by what you do.”
Osaka was the front runner in the final at Melbourne Park, although the relatively calm road to the final also marked moments where she showed her fight and spirit.
In the fourth round against Garbin Muguruza as the 2020 runner-up, Osaka had to beat both match points before scoring a victory, as well as going through some tough moments against Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner in the semifinals.
While her level against Brady wasn’t always at its highest, she still had enough quality at crucial moments.
That was most apparent at 5-4 in the first set when her constant pressure forced Brady to make mistakes that proved pivotal.
The extra brilliance enabled Osaka to make a quick start in the second set, from which Brady could not recover.
The sweet winner with a backhand set up more break points to take a 2–0 lead, and took the first opportunity when another deep comeback landed Brady in some clumsy action.
From that moment on, Osaka’s confidence grew more and quickly split up.
While Brady was scooping up his back, Osaka never seemed to ditch another player and served the tournament to love her.
The next question for Osaka will be whether she can convey this hard court dominance on mud and grass surfaces.
Success has not yet reached the French Open and Wimbledon, but her next ambition – once she celebrates this success – will try to change that in the next few months and over the coming years. “
“I feel like I should feel comfortable on these surfaces,” said Osaka. “I didn’t play the kids, so I wasn’t growing up playing on the grass at all.
“I sincerely think I’ll have better luck on the clay, because I think last year I didn’t play badly at all. It’s just something I have to get used to more.”
Brady comes short but is hoping for “more” of a Grand Finals
Although it wasn’t the outcome Brady wanted, the 25-year-old American has a lot of positives to build on after reaching her first Grand Slam final.
It was remarkable that the 22nd seed had reached the second week in Melbourne, after he was the only single player who was forced into a “difficult” quarantine upon his arrival in Australia to do so.
She stayed in her room for 14 days without leaving, and the former college athlete had to hit balls against a mattress backed by a wall, came up with innovative foot workouts and borrowed an exercise bike and grinder from Tennis Australia.
She also admitted to quitting Netflix so she wouldn’t do anything other than lie in bed.
Powerful serving is the cornerstone of her game and this helped her make her way through a gentle draw as she didn’t face anyone into the top 20 until Osaka.
Brady lost to Osaka when they met in the high-end US Open semi-finals last September and suffered the same fate as she struggled to enforce her service style.
The match swung away from Brady in that decisive tenth game of the opening set.
Having regained her divorce after a bad start, a double foul in 40-30 gave Osaka hope, and Brady was then caught by returning to baseline to give Osaka a set point out of nowhere.
Brady planted an easy frontal kick into the net, and in the end, that dirty game cost her a match.
Groans raised the crowd as Brady frowned and nodded at this point.
“It wasn’t supposed to be the case, but hopefully there will be more,” said Brady, who would rise to 15th in the world after being out of the top 50 a year ago.