MELBOURNE, Australia — The most uncomfortable second for Naomi Osaka on Saturday night time was not when she confronted a key break level within the first set of her Australian Open ladies’s singles ultimate towards Jennifer Brady. Nor was it when she was serving for the match within the second.
It got here two hours after she closed out her 6-4, 6-3 victory at Rod Laver Arena. At the beginning of her information convention, Craig Tiley, the top of Tennis Australia, handed Osaka a flute of champagne and proposed a toast to her second Australian Open crown and fourth Grand Slam title.
Osaka, 23, introduced the glass to her lips and tentatively took a sip, making an attempt unsuccessfully to preserve her expression impartial. She has by no means developed a style for alcohol, she had defined earlier within the event, as a result of she was informed as a toddler that it was dangerous for her.
“Like it’s ruining your body or your liver,” she stated. “I just want to give myself an advantage for as long as I can.”
Osaka, the pleasure of Japan who spent a lot of her childhood in Florida, would seem to have a leg up on the remainder of her competitors in an more and more deep ladies’s recreation. She is 4 for 4 in Grand Slam finals, a feat achieved within the Open period solely by Monica Seles on her manner to 9 whole championships and Roger Federer on his manner to 20.
“That’s very amazing company,” stated Osaka, who held her childhood idol, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, to the identical variety of video games, seven, mustered by Brady, a 25-year-old in her first main ultimate.
She added, “You can only just keeping going down your own path.”
Osaka, who gained her second United States Open title this previous September, is midway to a Naomi Slam. She is unbeaten in her previous 21 matches. Her most up-to-date loss in a person competitors got here within the third spherical of this event final yr when she was upset by the United States teenager Coco Gauff, a defeat that weighed on Osaka’s thoughts earlier than she took the court docket towards Brady who was the determined underdog like Gauff had been.
“I have been in the position that she is in to go into the first Slam,” Osaka stated, referring to Brady. “Of course I know the nerves that come with that. But then I was thinking on the other side, for me, I wonder if I’m expected to do better because I have been in Slam finals before. So there was actually a lot of nerves with that.”
Both gamers regarded nervous within the early going, lacking first serves and racking up roughly two unforced errors for each winner. With Osaka serving at 4-4 within the first set, Brady chipped away at Osaka’s fortress till she had opened a sliver of daylight at 30-40.
On break level, Osaka missed her first serve, directed a second try at Brady’s physique after which took the purpose with a forehand winner, certainly one of 4 she’d report within the match. She gained the subsequent two factors to seal the opening shut.
Brady took a 40-15 lead on her serve within the subsequent recreation, solely to be reeled in by Osaka, who broke her when Brady netted a brief forehand — an error, she bemoaned, “that happens maybe one in ten times or hopefully less.”
For Osaka, the uncharacteristic miss telegraphed Brady’s unease.
“My mind just began thinking that she was either really nervous or really pressured and I should capitalize on that by trying to win as many games as I could, pace-wise,” Osaka stated. “Because I feel like once a person loses the first set doubts start to creep in, so that’s when you really should put your foot on the gas.”
Nobody within the recreation proper now’s a greater pacesetter than Osaka, who improved to 45-1 in Grand Slam matches when she wins the primary set. She raced to a 4-0 lead within the second, needing 36 minutes to shut out the match.
“She played really well when she had to,” Brady conceded. “She hit good shots when she needed them.”
Osaka, who additionally gained the 2019 Australian Open, known as it a privilege to give you the chance to play a significant event given the coronavirus pandemic. “I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans, so just to have this energy it really means a lot,” she stated, referring to her three-set victory over Victoria Azarenka in New York.
Brady, a 25-year-old American, misplaced to Osaka in a hard-fought semifinal on the U.S. Open. A member of U.C.L.A.’s 2014 nationwide championship staff, Brady grew to become the primary girl with collegiate expertise on this event’s ultimate since 1983. She was making an attempt to turn into the primary to win the title since Barbara Jordan of Stanford did so in 1979.
Brady, who was outdoors the highest 50 at first of 2020, entered the event ranked twenty fourth on the earth, and after her run at Melbourne Park, she is going to vault to No. 13.
The third-ranked Osaka will transfer to No. 2, behind the Australian Ashleigh Barty, who fell within the quarterfinals. Osaka, who spent lengthy stretches of 2019 at No. 1, stated she just isn’t fixated on regaining the highest spot.
“I feel like I’m at a really good place right now,” Osaka stated. “I just want to play every match as hard as I can. If it comes to the point were I’m able to be No. 1 again, I’ll embrace it, but I’m not really chasing it.”
Osaka’s path to the ultimate in Melbourne included an in depth name with defeat within the fourth spherical, the place she confronted Garbiñe Muguruza and staved off two match factors in a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory. She dropped simply 18 video games in her ultimate three matches.
Among lively gamers, solely two ladies have extra Grand Slam titles than Osaka: Williams and her sister Venus, with seven. Osaka’s championships have all come on hardcourts, beginning along with her victory on the 2018 U.S. Open, the place she beat Serena Williams in straight units within the ultimate. Osaka stated the certainly one of her targets this season is to broaden her success to different surfaces, beginning with clay because the French Open is the subsequent scheduled Grand Slam.
“I don’t expect to win all my matches this year,” Osaka stated, including, “I don’t think it’s possible. Tennis players, we go through ups and downs. But for me, I only hope that my ups and downs are less drastic this year.”
Osaka’s long-term goal, she stated, is to final lengthy sufficient in tennis to sometime face an opponent whom she impressed to take up the game.
“For me, that’s the coolest thing that could ever happen to me,” she stated.