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Naomi Osaka claims second grand slam title at Australian Open after beating Petra Kvitova

December 1, 2019


Naomi Osaka claims second grand slam title at Australian Open after beating Petra Kvitova It took two gigantic bites to do it, but Naomi Osaka scored another brilliant Grand Slam triumph when she fought off the brave challenge of Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open. Having missed three match points in the second set, the Japanese player regrouped to hold off the Czech southpaw and win a wonderfully undulating contest 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 17 minutes. By doing so she becomes the first Asian world No 1 of either sex, and with two Majors under her belt nobody can dispute the authenticity of that status. She is the first woman to win back-to-back Majors, other than Serena Williams, since Kim Clijsters at the beginning of this decade. After receiving the winner’s cheque for £2. 35million Osaka, a little overwhelmed, told her opponent: ‘You have been through so much and huge congrats to you. ‘I can’t believe I just played the final of a Grand Slam again. It was a great final. It has been a while to be in a final for me,’ said an emotional Kvitova who paid tribute to her support team. ‘Thank you for sticking with me when we didn’t know I would be able to hold a racket again. For Kvitova it was the end of an unlikely dream that has seen her come back so admirably from a horrific knife attack just over two years ago, but she could be proud of the way she battled throughout. Osaka had to serve out the match at 5-4 in the decider when it could all have been over nearly an hour previously, but this time she did so to fifteen with total commitment. The Australian Open has acquired a habit of producing excellent women’s finals and this was another one. From the start it was obvious that this was not going to be like last year’s final between Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep, which was a festival of counterpunching. Both of these players like to attack and the games rattled by before Kvitova’s backhand return brought her two break points at 2-3, which she missed with unforced errors. The Czech needed to save one in the next game but then came her big chance, three more break points coming at 0-40 versus the Osaka serve. The Japanese player was nerveless in reeling off five straight points when she outrallied her opponent. Osaka had two set points against serve at 6-5, thwarted by a forehand winner and service winner. In the subsequent tie break she simply outplayed Kvitova, thumping down service winners and opening up the court, with the Czech’s body language becoming somewhat negative, as it is prone to do. Running away to 5-1, Osaka closed it out 7-2 before a packed out Australia Day crowd. Kvitova was hitting marginally more winners but her unforced error count was creeping up. The world No 4 had won her previous 59 matches from winning the first set, showing the size of the task facing Kvitova, but she broke to go 2-0 up. The Japanese showed how nugget she was against Serena Williams in New York and this occasion did not faze her either. She broke back and then went ahead for 3-2 when the wheels came off for the Czech, spraying errors in being broken to love. At 5-3 she had three match points, but then collapsed under pressure, losing eleven of the next twelve for Kvitova, hitting freely with that easy left–handed swing, to level at 5-5. Evidently flustered the unravelling continued all the way to the end of the set, and a double fault handed it to her opponent on a platter. It took Osaka until the second game of the decider to restore her equilibrium, and much to her credit she held serve and then broke as errors started to reappear from the other side of the net. While it was very tight – their points total was tied at 102 each in the middle of the sixth game – Osaka was edging ahead. She had three break points to go 5-2 up but suddenly the Kvitova serve fired up and she found three aces to stay in touch and test her opponent’s nerve one last time. It took two gigantic bites to do it, but Naomi Osaka scored another brilliant Grand Slam triumph when she fought off the brave challenge of Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open. Having missed three match points in the second set, the Japanese player regrouped to hold off the Czech southpaw and win a wonderfully undulating contest 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 17 minutes. By doing so she becomes the first Asian world No 1 of either sex, and with two Majors under her belt nobody can dispute the authenticity of that status. She is the first woman to win back-to-back Majors, other than Serena Williams, since Kim Clijsters at the beginning of this decade. After receiving the winner’s cheque for £2. 35million Osaka, a little overwhelmed, told her opponent: ‘You have been through so much and huge congrats to you. ‘I can’t believe I just played the final of a Grand Slam again. It was a great final. It has been a while to be in a final for me,’ said an emotional Kvitova who paid tribute to her support team. ‘Thank you for sticking with me when we didn’t know I would be able to hold a racket again. For Kvitova it was the end of an unlikely dream that has seen her come back so admirably from a horrific knife attack just over two years ago, but she could be proud of the way she battled throughout. Osaka had to serve out the match at 5-4 in the decider when it could all have been over nearly an hour previously, but this time she did so to fifteen with total commitment. The Australian Open has acquired a habit of producing excellent women’s finals and this was another one. From the start it was obvious that this was not going to be like last year’s final between Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep, which was a festival of counterpunching. Both of these players like to attack and the games rattled by before Kvitova’s backhand return brought her two break points at 2-3, which she missed with unforced errors. The Czech needed to save one in the next game but then came her big chance, three more break points coming at 0-40 versus the Osaka serve. The Japanese player was nerveless in reeling off five straight points when she outrallied her opponent. Osaka had two set points against serve at 6-5, thwarted by a forehand winner and service winner. In the subsequent tie break she simply outplayed Kvitova, thumping down service winners and opening up the court, with the Czech’s body language becoming somewhat negative, as it is prone to do. Running away to 5-1, Osaka closed it out 7-2 before a packed out Australia Day crowd. Kvitova was hitting marginally more winners but her unforced error count was creeping up. The world No 4 had won her previous 59 matches from winning the first set, showing the size of the task facing Kvitova, but she broke to go 2-0 up. The Japanese showed how nugget she was against Serena Williams in New York and this occasion did not faze her either. She broke back and then went ahead for 3-2 when the wheels came off for the Czech, spraying errors in being broken to love. At 5-3 she had three match points, but then collapsed under pressure, losing eleven of the next twelve for Kvitova, hitting freely with that easy left–handed swing, to level at 5-5. Evidently flustered the unravelling continued all the way to the end of the set, and a double fault handed it to her opponent on a platter. It took Osaka until the second game of the decider to restore her equilibrium, and much to her credit she held serve and then broke as errors started to reappear from the other side of the net. While it was very tight – their points total was tied at 102 each in the middle of the sixth game – Osaka was edging ahead. She had three break points to go 5-2 up but suddenly the Kvitova serve fired up and she found three aces to stay in touch and test her opponent’s nerve one last time.

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