Japan’s Naomi Osaka claimed her second Australian Open title in three years after a straight-sets victory over American Jennifer Brady on Saturday.
Osaka became the first woman since Monica Seles to win her first four Grand Slam finals with a 6-4 6-3 victory against Brady, maintaining her perfect record in major finals.
The 23-year-old remains behind Ashleigh Barty in the rankings because of the temporary switch to a two-year system but there is no doubt Osaka is the best player in the world on hard courts, while only Serena and Venus Williams of active players now hold more major titles.
After stepping onto the podium to collect the trophy, Osaka turned to Brady and said: “Firstly, I want to congratulate Jennifer. We played in the semi-finals of the US Open and I told everyone that would listen that you’re going to be a problem, and I was right. To see your growth over the past few months is really cool.
“I’d like to thank my team. I’ve been with them too long, a month and some change. They’re like my family. They’re the ones with me through my training, through my matches, through my nervous talks before my matches, and I’m really appreciative towards them. This one’s for you.
“Lastly but not least, I want to thank you guys (the fans). Thank you for coming and watching. It feels really incredible. I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans so just to have this energy, it really means a lot.
“Thank you for opening your hearts and your arms towards us. For sure I feel like playing a Grand Slam right now is a super privilege and it’s something I won’t take for granted.”
Osaka’s Fed Cup defeat against little-known Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo proved to be a watershed moment for her because since that day last February, Osaka has won all 21 matches she has played, taking in a third Grand Slam title at the US Open and carrying her through a very tough draw to a fourth major title at Melbourne Park.
She saw off Serena Williams in straight sets in the semi-finals and she continued where she left off to defeat first-time Grand Slam finalist Brady to continue her dominance of the women’s game at majors.