Naomi Osaka crushed Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 to secure her second Australian Open title on Saturday and cement her standing as the new queen of the women’s game.
Osaka’s one-sided win over the 22nd-seeded American in the final at Rod Laver Arena gave the Japanese juggernaut her fourth major crown, with her career still budding at the age of 23.
She joined Monica Seles and Roger Federer as winners in their first four Grand Slam finals, marking her out as the ultimate big match performer.
“My reaction is that that’s very amazing company,” Osaka told reporters, sitting next to the winner’s Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
“I hope that I can have one grain of how their career has unfolded. But you can only wish and you can only just keep going down your own path.
“But it’s definitely something crazy to hear.”
More major trophies surely await if she can convert her irresistible hardcourt form to French Open clay and grass at Wimbledon.
Having humbled Serena Williams in the semi-finals, a victory that reinforced a changing of the guard, Osaka was untroubled by Brady in the clash of power hitters.
She romped to a 21st straight win in completed matches, a streak dating back more than a year.
Fans hoping for a repeat of the pair’s engrossing U.S. Open semi-final last year were left disappointed as Brady froze in the spotlight of her first Slam final.
U.S. Open champion Osaka was also short of her best tennis, joining Brady in producing a dour, error-strewn first set.
But she settled to clinch six straight games, roaring to a 4-0 lead in the second before serving out the match to love.
A big serve sealed it, causing Brady to fire a forehand return long, and Osaka held her racket over her head, beamed and gave a little leap in an understated celebration.
“Tonight I felt like was (it) more of a mental battle,” said Osaka who also won the 2019 title.
“Of course, I can’t speak for her, but I was extremely nervous. I honestly just told myself before the match, I’m probably not going to play well.
“I shouldn’t put that pressure on myself to play perfectly but just go out there and fight for every point.”
On a cool and breezy night at Rod Laver Arena, Osaka warmed up with two aces but the fast start fizzled out in a stream of errors from both players.
A nervous Brady was especially culpable, spraying 18 unforced errors in the opening set.
Both players dropped their serve before Brady breathed some life into the contest at 4-4, luring Osaka in with a drop-shot, then scrambling forward to retrieve and lob her for break point.
Osaka cancelled it nervelessly with an imperious forehand winner fired from the baseline and hung tight until Brady gifted her the lead.
erving to stay in the set at 5-4, Brady slapped a wild forehand over the baseline to cough up set point then stepped in to pound a would-be forehand winner straight into the net.
The crowd groaned and Brady went to her chair ashen-faced.
Osaka seized the momentum, breaking Brady again in the second game of the second set with a sumptuous crosscourt backhand winner.
She rolled on to a 4-0 lead before Brady belatedly conjured some resistance to break Osaka.
The American clawed back to 5-3 but bowed out as she started, smashing wild returns to allow Osaka to serve out the match without trouble.
It was a forgettable display from Brady’s racket but she had a remarkable run in Melbourne, after being one of the 72 players unable to train during their two-week hard quarantine in the lead-up.
“I think she’s human like the rest of us in this room,” Brady told reporters of Osaka. “She just brings out her best in the big moments.
“But I don’t think, you know, she’s God,” she added with a smile. “I think maybe Serena is. Maybe she’ll get there, I don’t know.”
Naomi Osaka added a second Australian Open title to her two U.S. Open crowns on Saturday but said she would rather “live in the moment” than set ambitious targets for further Grand Slam glory.
The Japanese third seed overpowered American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena and is now in the bracket of luminaries like Kim Clijsters and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who also won four Slams.
With her career still budding at the age of 23, further major trophies will be expected to follow, particularly if Osaka can convert her hardcourt form to clay and grass.
“Right now, I’m trying to go for five,” she told reporters after winning a 21st completed match in succession.
“I like to take things not big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment.
“But I don’t want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations. I know that the people that I’m playing against are the best players in the world and if my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come.
Osaka joined Roger Federer and Monica Seles as players to win all four of their first Grand Slam finals.
She said her big match credentials might have stemmed from childhood when she felt more motivated to win in front of a rare audience.
“I didn’t play a lot of tournaments when I was a kid, so I’d always want to take the opportunity whenever someone was watching me, I’d feel like it was more fun that way,” she said.
“So maybe that’s how I developed wanting a crowd and wanting to play in front of more people.
“But I also think it’s because I watched a lot of Grand Slams growing up and seeing the crowds, seeing Arthur Ashe Stadium, seeing how it was in Australia and Rod Laver, and wanting to play in front of people and wanting to be, you know, the person holding up the trophy.”
There was nearly two years’ wait between her first and second braces of Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows and Melbourne Park, a period in which Osaka struggled to deal with her standing in the game.
She said she was now far more self-aware.
“I think what I have learned on and off the court is it’s okay to not be sure about yourself,” she added. “I feel like I’ve always forced myself to be strong or whatever.
“I feel like the biggest thing that I want to achieve is — this is going to sound really odd, but hopefully I play long enough to play a girl that said that I was once her favourite player or something.”
Having already stamped her authority on hardcourts by winning both the Australian and U.S. Opens multiple times, Japan’s Naomi Osaka feels she is now better equipped to succeed on other surfaces.
The 23-year-old outplayed American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 in Saturday’s Australian Open final at the Rod Laver Arena to join Roger Federer and Monica Seles as players to win all four of their first Grand Slam finals.
Osaka won back-to-back majors at the 2018 U.S. Open and the Australian Open in 2019 and picked up her third at Flushing Meadows last year but she has never made it beyond the third round at Roland Garros or Wimbledon.
Asked if she was now more confident of success on clay and grass, Osaka said: “Yes, I think so.
“I have more of an understanding of what I’m supposed to do.
“Before I would just head into a match sort of unaware of guess different patterns and things like that. But now I talk to (coach) Wim (Fissette) a bit more on strategy.”
Carrying her hardcourt success to the French Open and the Wimbledon was the “biggest goal” going forward for Osaka.
“I think everyone knows I can do well on hard court,” she said after posing for pictures with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at Melbourne’s Government House.
“For me, I just really want to get comfortable on the other surfaces.”
Justine Henin, a seven-times Grand Slam champion, recently said that women’s tennis has a “new boss” in Osaka.
“I feel like it’s an honour that I’m in that conversation,” said Osaka.
“I also feel like for me, my biggest goal is to be consistent throughout the year, not just randomly popping up and winning a Grand Slam.
“Hopefully I’m able to be more stable this year and feel more worthy of potentially having that title.”