By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Naomi Osaka [4] def. Petra Kvitova [8] 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4
  • Osaka will become the first Asian on either tour to become World No. 1
  • First woman to win two majors in a row since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 (Australian Open and Roland Garros).
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Naomi Osaka made history as she defeated Petra Kvitova to win a second Grand Slam title and scooped the World No. 1 in the process.

 

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Naomi Osaka [4] def. Petra Kvitova [8] 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4

Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova were taking to the court for thweir first ever tour-level match, with a lot on the line for both players. the prospect of winning an Australian open title for the first time, taking the World No. 1 spot with it. History beckoned in some way for both, and for Kvitova it would be the most personal triumph in the face of adversity.

Opening with a double-fault was no obstacle for Osaka who swiftly got on the board, and then backed it up with a serve to love. Kvitova’s serving was also well on point, from the start of the match,

Both had chances to break and equally both re-established command as Kvitova twice served to stay in the set, but once they reached the tie-break it was all one-way traffic for Osaka who hit the ground running, taking the lead.

The match came alive with an 18-shot rally in a quality first set of tennis.

Once they hit the tie-break though for the first set, it was all one-way traffic for Osaka, as she closed out the first set very comfortably.

In an oft-quoted stat – Osaka has won 54 straight matches after taking the first set but Kvitova pushed hard for her moment, breaking for a 2-0 lead, but Osaka hit straight back with two consecutive breaks for a 4-2 lead, able to consolidate where Kvitova could not.

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No-one was prepared for quite the plot-twist, as Osaka watched three match points dwindle as Kvitova saved all three on her serve, before taking advantage of Osaka unravelling just a little as the frustration got the better of her, to level up.

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The match deserved a third set, but it was first blood to Osaka with an early break. Kvitova had her chances to redress the balance, and Osaka had her own chances to open up a double-break cushion, bit finding herself in the position to serve it out once more, this time she needed just the second match point to clinch back to back Slam titles, and the World No, 1.

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The emotions were raw, there was no doubt, for Kvitova, who has since her return at Roland Garros in 2017 tried to play down the knife attach that almost ended her career at the end of 2016.

Tearfully, she said, in her on court interview: “It’s crazy. I can’t believe I just played finals of a Grand Slam again. It was a great final. Well done Naomi. You really played well and congrats for being No. 1 as well.

“To my team. Thank you for everything. But mostly thank you for sticking with me even though we didn’t know if I was able to hold the racquet again. You were there every single day supporting me and staying positive for me which I really needed. It probably wasn’t easy so thank you very much.”

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Osaka, whose speeches are fast becoming the highlight of her trophy presentations paid tribute to her opponent first and foremost.

“Hello. Sorry public speaking isn’t really my strong side. I just hope I can get through this. Huge congrats to Petra. I’ve always wanted to play you. I honestly wouldn’t want this to be our first match. You’re really amazing and I’m really honoured to have played you in a final of a Grand Slam

“Thanks to my team. I really don’t think I would have made it through this week without you guys. I read notes before this, but I still forgot the rest of what I was supposed to say!”

When the new rankings come out on Monday Osaka will be the first Asian No. 1 across either of the tours. No Japanese player has been ranked higher than No. 4. She is the first woman since Jennifer Capriati to make it back to back Slams.

 The Australian Open will conclude with the Men’s final on Sunday.

 

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