MELBOURNE, Australia – Naomi Osaka went undefeated in the Grand Slam final with a 6-4-3-3 win over Jennifer Brady at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Osaka became the first woman to win her first four Grand Slam finals since then Monica Seles did it in 1990 and 1991 on their way to a total of nine championships.
Osaka won the first set after Brady missed an open chance to get one step ahead and serve for the set. In the second round Osaka took control 4-0 and held for the championship.
Osaka, that too won the Australian Open 2019, now has a streak of 21 match wins that has come over a 53-week stretch, including one Championship run at the United States Openwhere she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the final in three sets.
Osaka’s most recent loss Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain in a Fed Cup qualifier last February came before the coronavirus pandemic closed the tennis season for five months.
After the game, Osaka called it a privilege to play a major tournament in the face of the public health crisis. “I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans. Just to have that energy it really means a lot,” she said.
Brady, a 25-year-old American, first appeared in a Grand Slam final about five months after losing to Osaka in a highly competitive semi-final at the US Open. As a member of the 2014 UCLA national team, Brady became the first woman with college experience in the final of that tournament since 1983. She tried to become the first to win the title since Stanford’s Barbara Jordan did so in 1979.
Brady, who was outside the top 50 at the beginning of 2020, competed in 24th place in the world and will jump to 13th place after her run at Melbourne Park.
Third placed Osaka, who represents Japan in the competition, will move up to second place behind Australian Ashleigh Barty, who fell in the quarterfinals. Osaka spent long stretches of 2019 in first place.
Her path to the finals in Melbourne included five opponents currently in the top 50, including the 23-time Grand Slam individual champion Serena Williamswho she defeated in straight sets in the semifinals. Osaka recovered from defeat in the fourth round when they faced Garbiñe Muguruza and saved two match points in a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win. She only lost 11 games in her next two games en route to the finals.
Among the active players, only two women have more Grand Slam titles than Osaka: Williams and her sister Venus at seven. Osaka’s championships have all been held on hard courts, starting with her Victory at the US Open 2018where she defeated Serena Williams in straight sets in the final.
Asked to explain their perfect record in the final ahead of Saturday’s game, Osaka described the championship game as “the biggest fight” and said, “I think I fight the hardest in the final. I think this is where you’re sort of grappling.