Osaka comes through Kvitova epic to seal Australian Open glory

Jan 27, 2019, 01:26
Osaka comes through Kvitova epic to seal Australian Open glory

A lot was on the line in the Australian Open final for Noami Osaka, but she managed to outhit Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4. Osaka regained her composure though and broke Kvitova in the final set to win her second consecutive grand slam, the second in her short career.

The 21-year-old produced her best run at a grand slam at the 2018 Australian Open and has since soared to astonishing new heights. The two-time Wimbledon victor will be no.2 in the world thanks to her runner-up trophy, something she never thought might happen.

Osaka became the first woman since Jennifer Capriati to win both of her first two Grand Slam finals.

Tears fell down Naomi Osaka's cheeks as she left the court for a comfort break to gear herself up for a third set she had not expected was coming in Saturday's Australian Open final. "It would be bad if I wasn't", she said.

There was speculation Osaka couldn't let herself enjoy the moment, still kicking herself that she nearly let the match slip through her fingers in her second set meltdown.

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More poignantly, it was her first such appearance since December 2016, when an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic cut her left hand - the one she uses to play tennis - so badly that hours of surgery were required to fix it.

'But then when it got towards the end, then I started, like, realising how big the situation was, so then I think I started, like, yelling c'mon again'.

And then, after returning to the court, Osaka turned it all around just as quickly as she had dropped 23 of 27 points.

None of us saw that outcome when Osaka held three championship points at 5-3 in the second set.

That was crucial when she had to come back from a set and 4-1 down against Hsieh Su-wei in the third round, when she spiked her racket in frustration.

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Osaka beat Serena Williams to claim her first major title last September and sensationally sealed back-to-back major triumphs with a defeat of Petra Kvitova at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

In the ski resort of Hakuba, which hosted events during the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998, a small group of tennis fans celebrated as they watched the final at the local sports bar.

"Thank you to [to my team] for sticking with me even if we didn't know if I would be able to hold a racquet again", Kvitova said.

Osaka might be forgiven for not being the most polished speaker. Osaka survived a nervy implosion in the second set and won the first and third ones with polished brilliance. It was their first mixed doubles title. And definitely feels great. "I'm just trying to make maximum from the minimum".

This was her first major title match since she won her second Wimbledon championship in 2014.

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After receiving her trophy, Osaka said: "Public speaking isn't really my strong side so I just hope I can get through this. I had to regroup and told myself I didn't want any regrets".