Naomi Osaka gave Jennifer Brady a lesson in Grand Slam tennis as she cruised to a 6-4, 6-3 win to claim her second Australian Open title on Saturday (Feb 20) and cement her standing as the new queen of the women’s game.
Osaka’s victory over the 22nd-seeded American at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena after 77 minutes gave the Japanese her fourth Major crown.
Fans hoping for a repeat of the pair’s engrossing US Open semi-final last year were left disappointed as Brady froze in the spotlight of her first Grand Slam final.
Third seed Osaka played some way short of her best tennis but it was more than enough as she clinched six straight games to take the first set and stormed to a 4-0 lead in the second.
Brady belatedly conjured some resistance to break Osaka against the flow of play and claw back to 5-3.
But the American bowed out as she started, with errors flying off her racket.
Osaka served out the match to love, with a big serve sealing it when Brady thumped a forehand return long.
“We played in the semis of the US Open a couple of months ago and I told everyone that you’re going to be a problem,” Osaka told Brady at the trophy presentation.
“And I was right. It’s really incredible to me to see your growth over the past few months, it’s really cool for me to see.”
Osaka preserves her 100 percent record in Grand Slam finals after winning the 2018 and 2020 US Opens and the 2019 title in Melbourne.
The 23-year-old, who also becomes the first woman since Monica Seles to win her first four Major finals, will now rise to second in the world rankings.
Osaka, rated as the world’s top-earning female athlete, saved two match points in the fourth round against Garbine Muguruza before going on to lift the trophy.
She joined Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Li Na in triumphing at the Australian Open in the last decade after saving match points.
Osaka, who also beat her idol, Serena Williams in straight sets in the semi-finals, is on a 21-match winning streak.
Brady said: “I hope young girls at home are watching and inspired by what she’s doing.”