MELBOURNE, Australia – Naomi Osaka remained undefeated in the Grand Slam final by defeating Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday at the Australian Open.
Osaka, 23, became the first woman to win her first four Grand Slam finals since then Monica Seles did so in 1990 and 1991 on its way to nine overall championships.
Osaka won the first set after Brady missed an open opportunity an inch ahead and served for the set. In the second, Osaka took control with a 4-0 lead and stayed in the championship.
Osaka, which too won the 2019 Australian Open, now has a string of 21 wins in the match, which ran through 53 weeks and includes a championship at the United States Open, where she defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets in the final.
The latest loss in Osaka Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain in the Fed Cup qualifiers last February, it followed before a coronavirus pandemic halted the tennis season for five months.
After the match, Osaka called it a privilege to be able to play a big tournament given the public health crisis. “I haven’t played my last Grand Slam with the fans, so only if I have this energy does it really mean it,” she said.
Brady, a 25-year-old American, made her Grand Slam final debut, about five months after losing to Osaka in a tough semifinal at the US Open. A member of UCLA’s 2014 national championship team, Brady became the first woman with collegial experience in the final of this tournament since 1983. She has been trying to become the first to win the title since Barbara Jordan of Stanford did so in 1979.
Brady, who was out of the top 50 in early 2020, entered the tournament ranked 24th in the world, and after the race in Melbourne Park will skip 13th place.
Third-placed Osaka, representing Japan in the competition, will move to 2nd place, behind Australian Ashleigh Barty, who fell in the quarterfinals. Osaka spent the long sections of 2019 in first place.
Her journey to the finals in Melbourne included five opponents currently ranked in the top 50, including a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, which she beat in the semifinals in straight sets. Osaka bounced off the brink of defeat in the fourth round, where they faced Garbiñe Muguruza and took away two match balls in a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory. In the next two matches on the way to the finals, she missed only 11 games.
Among active players, only two women have more Grand Slam titles than Osaka: Williams and her sister Venus, with seven. Osaka’s championship comes on hard ground, starting with her victory at the US Open 2018, where she defeated Serena Williams in the final in straight sets.
Asked before Saturday’s match to explain her perfect record in the final, Osaka described the championship match as “the biggest fight” and said: “I think I fight the hardest in the final. I think you stand out somehow.