Naomi Osaka wins 2021 Australian Open title

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Naomi Osaka, 23, beats Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 to win her second Australian Open singles title and fourth Grand Slam.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka claimed her second Australian Open title in three years after a straight-sets victory over American Jennifer Brady on Saturday.

Osaka became the first woman since Monica Seles to win her first four Grand Slam finals as well as four of the last six majors with a 6-4 6-3 victory against Brady maintaining her perfect record in major finals.

The 23-year-old remains behind Ashleigh Barty in the rankings because of the temporary switch to a two-year system but there is no doubt Osaka is the best player in the world on hard courts, while only Serena and Venus Williams of active players now hold more major titles.

Osaka’s Fed Cup defeat against little-known Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo proved to be a watershed moment for her because since that day last February, Osaka has won all 21 matches she has played, taking in a third Grand Slam title at the US Open and carrying her through a very tough draw to a fourth major title at Melbourne Park.

She saw off Serena Williams in straight sets in the semi-finals and she continued where she left off to defeat first-time Grand Slam finalist Brady to continue her dominance of the women’s game at majors.

Osaka has now won four Grand Slam titles following her victory in Melbourne

Osaka knew she could not underestimate 25-year-old Brady after they played one of the best matches of 2020 in the US Open semis.

Brady, who struggled with nerves during a semi-final victory over Karolina Muchova, made four of 14 first serves and double-faulted three times to hand Osaka a 3-1 lead.

But after a shaky start in breezy conditions on Rod Laver Arena, the American soon relaxed and hit straight back before consolidating with a love service game to draw level.

Osaka saved a break point to hold in the ninth game before taking a pulsating opening set after a couple of fortunate bounces that caught out the American.

Brady knew she faced an uphill battle, with the Japanese star having won her last 40 Grand Slam matches when winning the first set.

From 4-4 in the opening set, the gap between the two opened up as Osaka reeled off the next six games in a row before Brady composed herself well, firing up her big forehand once more to pull two games back, and threatened to get back into the match.

But Osaka has proved herself a player more than able to handle herself at the biggest occasions and she calmly served out the match to love.

Brady vs Osaka: Match Stats

BradyMatch StatsOsaka
2Aces6
4Double Faults2
62%1st serve win percentage73%
42%2nd serve win percentage55%
1/5Break points won2/4
15Total winners16
31Unforced errors24
54/123Total points won69/123

Brady is a late developer at the top level, having only really found her love for the sport during her studies at the University of California. She finally realised she could compete with the best players last year and will break into the top 20 for the first time next week after reaching her maiden Grand Slam final.

Osaka is congratulated on her victory by Brady at the net

Speaking on court, Brady said: “First I would like to congratulate Naomi on another Grand Slam title. She’s such an inspiration to us all and what she’s doing for the game, getting the sport out there, and I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she’s doing.

“I would like to say thanks to my team. Without you guys I wouldn’t be standing here tonight so thanks very much for everything you’ve done for me and let’s keep going for more.

“It was special to play in front of fans in my first grand slam final. Hopefully I’m standing on the stage next time with this girl over here (the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup) but tonight it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully there’s many more.”

SKYSPORTS