Japan’s Naomi Osaka won her second Grand Slam in a row with a grueling 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4 victory over Czech two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final. Besides the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, the players battled for their debut at the top of the WTA rankings and it was a fantastic match, in which Kvitova saved three match points in the second set and won five straight games to try to crush Osaka.
There were no breaks of serve in the entertaining first set, even though Kvitova had as many as five break points, including a 40-0 lead on Osaka’s serve in the seventh game, and Osaka had three, including two set points at 6-5. The opening set was over in 51 minutes, when Osaka raced through the tiebreak.
Osaka served really fast in the set, including her 192 kmh (119 mph) fastest serve and she won 22 out of 25 points on her first serve. The eighth-seeded Kvitova, on the other hand, produced some daring drop shots and won the most beautiful point in the set, an 18-shot rally that saw both players run from corner to corner.
When Osaka won the first set, Kvitova’s prospects seemed dim, as not only did she waste so many chances to break, but since 2016 Osaka hadn’t lost a match after winning the first set. Eventually it turned out that the scenario happened again, so her streak is now 59!
After winning the first-set tiebreak 7-2, Osaka pretty much raced to a 4-2 lead in the second set, even though Kvitova had finally broken her serve and had an initial 2-0 lead. At 5-3, the Japanese had three match points, but Kvitova survived, won five consecutive games to win the second set and lead 1-0 in the third.
The 21-year-old Osaka has awe-inspiring nerves, especially for her age, so the lost chances didn’t overpower her confidence. Osaka built a 4-2 lead in the decider and even though she wasted a 40-0 lead on Kvitova’s serve in the seventh game, the reigning US Open champion stayed strong and eventually capitalized on the earned advantage in the tenth game of the set, on her fifth match point.
En route to the title, Osaka defeated Magda Linette in the first round, Tamara Zidansek in the second, seed No.28 Hsieh Su-wei in the third, 13th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth, sixth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, seventh seed Karolina Pliskova in the semis, and finally the eighth-seeded Kvitova.
The 21-year-old will now become the youngest WTA No.1 since Caroline Wozniacki and the first woman to follow up her maiden Grand Slam title with another major trophy since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
Osaka’s winning Australian Open fashion was created by Adidas in cooperation with Parley for the Oceans, incorporating material made from recycled plastic bottles. The Japanese sported the Adidas Spring Parley Tank Top, Parley Skirt, and Parley Jacket.
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