Naomi Osaka cruises to Australian Open title with convincing straight-sets win over American Jennifer Brady in the final… as the Japanese star claims her FOURTH Grand Slam and second triumph at Melbourne Park
- Third seed Naomi Osaka won her second Australian Open title on Saturday
- The Japanese 23-year-old had too much for American finalist Jennifer Brady
- Osaka, who beat Serena Williams in the semis, is now a four-time major winner
- Osaka dropped just one set all tournament in a dominant fortnight in Melbourne
Naomi Osaka confirmed her status as the queen of hard court tennis when she fought off the game challenge of Jennifer Brady to claim her second Australian Open.
The number three seed became the first woman since Monica Seles to win all four of her initial Grand Slam finals when she downed the world number 24, 6-4 6-3, in 77 minutes.
The 23 year-old, born in Japan and raised in America, clearly felt the pressure of being the strong favourite but brushed off a first set scare to assert her superior class with the easy power on her groundstrokes.
Naomi Osaka cruised to her second Australian Open title with a straight-sets win in the final
The Japanese star posed for the cameras while holding the gleaming silverware aloft
After starting slowly Osaka quickly found her gear and moved into cruise control
Brady, the 22nd seed, fought right till the end but ultimately came up short on Saturday night
Brady started promisingly as Osaka made errors, but was quickly overpowered in the final
She has now won four of the last six Grand Slam events staged on hard courts, even if repeating that dominance on clay and grass has proved much more elusive.
Just making the final had been a tremendous effort from Brady, who last month spent two weeks locked up in her hotel room. She was one of the 72 players in full quarantine after someone tested positive on her flight.
Windy conditions greeted the players and a restricted crowd allowed into Rod Laver Arena.
Fears that Osaka could walk away with it may have been burnished when she took an early lead, with signs that the occasion was getting to the American, who double faulted twice to get broken early on.
The pair line-up before the match – it was the first Grand Slam singles final of Brady’s career
However she quickly recovered as nerves seemed to creep in on the other side, with the Japanese player starting to overplay and spray unforced errors around the court.
Brady was happily standing toe to toe, and had a big chance when she created two break points at 4-4.
Osaka saved one of them with a looping forehand and then benefitted when her opponent suddenly tightened up at 4-5, double faulting and then, on the first set point, dumping a straightforward forehand in the net.
The final took place with a crowd in Melbourne after the lockdown was lifted earlier this week
That was always going to be tough for last year’s US Open semi-finalist to swallow, and the favourite relaxed into the occasion.
As she did in her semi-final win against Serena Williams, Osaka momentarily tightened up in sight of the winning post and was broken at 4-0. Normal service was resumed soon after, with Brady always having to press to the limit at the cost of unforced errors.
She made Osaka serve it out at 5-3 but that was done with a minimum of drama.