'Shocked' Osaka wins Australian Open to become world number one

Japan's Naomi Osaka won the first set of the Australian Open women's final 7-6 (7/2) against Czech star Petra Kvitova as she attempts to claim back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

But Asia's new sporting superstar regained her cool to take the deciding set, the match, the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and $4.1 million winner's cheque after two hours and 27 minutes.

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

There was not an ounce of bitterness as Osaka accepted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from Asia's first Grand Slam champion Li Na, with only warm cheers ringing from the Rod Laver Arena terraces. "That's a very human thing to do", said Osaka.

Kvitova was injured in a knife attack by an intruder at her home in December 2016, initially fearing the end of her career, but the Czech reached her first Grand Slam final since her second Wimbledon title in 2014. It took me really while to believe, to the people around me again, and especially to the men, for sure. But she was proud of how far she has come since she returned to the Tour. "I'm really honored to have played you in the final of a Grand Slam".

Osaka also praised her team, saying: "I really don't think that I would have made it through this week without you guys".

This time, Osaka wept tears of joy and smiled as she became the youngest woman to win back-to-back majors since Martina Hingis in 1998 and the youngest number one since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.

When she won her first big title in Indian Wells a year ago, she compared herself to "Caveman Spongebob" and spent the next few months posting about Overwatch. "I think it's always a bit more pressure from outside, as well as from yourself", she said.

"I feel great. I'm playing great tennis".

Naomi Osaka fulfilled a long-held dream on Saturday by becoming the world number one after winning the Australian Open, and some of the greats of the game forecast a dazzling future for the young Japanese star.

The Japanese becomes the first player to win two consecutive Grand Slam trophies since Serena Williams in 2015, and the first player to back up her maiden major title at the very next Slam since Jennifer Capriati won the Australian and French Opens back in 2001.

"I have so much tea right now, but I'm not going to spill it", Osaka said to laughter.

Naomi Osaka is Generation Z's champion.

At this time past year, she was ranked No.72. "I think I still don't really realise that I played the final".

"Whatever she did when she walked off the court", Bajin said about the break after the second set, "it helped".

"You are really awesome and I am really honoured to have played you in the final of grand slam".

So I was, like, practising with the hand, like, two, three times per day, which I don't know if the normal person will do that, but of course that I needed the hand to be back on the court.

  • Rosalie Stanley