Naomi Osaka gave Jennifer Brady a lesson in Grand Slam tennis as she cruised to a 6-4 6-3 win to secure her second Australian Open title in Melbourne on Saturday (February 20) and cement her standing as the new queen of the women’s game.
Fans hoping for a repeat of the pair’s engrossing U.S. Open semi-final last year were left disappointed as Brady froze in the spotlight of her first Grand Slam final.
On a cool and breezy night at Rod Laver Arena, Brady dropped serve after two double-faults but quickly broke back when Osaka double-faulted to gift a break point.
Brady breathed some life into the contest at 4-4, luring Osaka in with a drop-shot, then scrambling forward to retrieve and lob her for break point.
Brady kept offering Osaka gifts from her racket.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-4, she slapped a wild forehand over the baseline after Osaka’s fortunate lob had hit the baseline to cough up set point.
Brady fired down a huge serve that Osaka could only return short, then stepped in to pound what should have been a simple forehand winner straight into the net.
The crowd groaned and Brady went to her chair ashen-faced.
Osaka stepped up the pressure, breaking Brady again after setting up the chance with a sumptuous crosscourt backhand winner and charged on to a 4-0 lead before Brady belatedly conjured some resistance to break Osaka against the flow of play.
The American clawed back to 5-3 but bowed out as she started, smashing wild returns to allow Osaka to serve out the match without trouble.
Osaka’s victory over the 22nd-seeded American gave the Japanese third seed her fourth major crown at the age of 23.
Osaka, who won the 2019 tournament, offered Brady warm congratulations and thanked the fans at the trophy ceremony.
“When we played in the semis of the U.S. Open, a couple of months ago, and I told everyone that would listen ‘you’re going to be a problem’. And I was right,” said Osaka, who will be world number two when the rankings are updated.
“It feels really incredible for me. I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans so just to have this energy it really means a lot.”