Before COVID-19 shut down tennis almost a year ago, Naomi Osaka was just one of several young stars in women’s tennis who went into the Grand Slams thinking they had a chance to win. But after a second Australian Open title on Saturday and the fourth Grand Slam, there is no longer any doubt about the dominant force in the women’s game.
Osaka’s 6-4, 6-3 win against American Jennifer Brady in the final was her 21st win in a row since last February and she advanced in front of all active players except Serena and Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Grand Slam Count.
It also showed why she is 4-0 in the Grand Slam final and has a reputation for improving her game in big games.
Brady, who played in her first slam final, got some momentum in the first set with 4: 4 and got a breakpoint with a praise winner that would have given her the chance to play the first set. But when Osaka erased that, she never looked back, broke Brady to win the set, and then rolled through the second with just a touch of drama.
After Osaka took a 4-0 lead in the second round and knocked off with heavy ground blows, it was broken to breathe life into Brady. But she quickly closed it on serve, making sure Brady couldn’t do a rally in the second set, despite playing better tennis towards the end of the game.
It wasn’t even close to repeating their exciting game in the US Open semi-finals, which Osaka won 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
Brady, who has been one of the hottest players in women’s tennis since returning from COVID-19 hiatus, struggled to play the entire game for the first time. This allowed Osaka to go deep on second serve, throwing Brady into mistakes and repeatedly playing away from Brady’s big forehand.
At their second Australian Open, which matches their two US Open, the next challenge for Osaka is to transfer their command of hard courts to other surfaces. She did not make it through the third round at the French Open or Wimbledon in a total of seven appearances at these tournaments.