Australian Open: After New York drama, Osaka savors Melbourne coronation


Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has captured the Australian Open title and world number 1 spot by beating Petra Kvitova - in scenes that came in stark contrast to her maiden Grand Slam win over Serena Williams past year.

She becomes the first Japanese player to hold the number one ranking, moving up to the top spot from number four.

Kvitova did not go down without a fight though, successfully saving three (3!) championship match points to make Osaka serve for the win at 5-4.

Given Osaka had won her last 59 matches when taking the first set, the size of Kvitova's task was clear, but the 28-year-old responded well and secured the first break of the match on her seventh chance.

After Kvitova double-faulted to offer up a break point at 1-all, Osaka converted it with a cross-court backhand victor.

Her US Open victory previous year was largely overshadowed by the tense standoff between Serena Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

"I don't know how long will take me to get over it", said Kvitova, who was the eighth seed in Melbourne.

"Huge congrats to you and your team and you are really unbelievable and I am really honoured to have played you in the final of a grand slam". She won her first Grand Slam, at Wimbledon, aged 21, and said Osaka would need to handle extra pressure.

"Hello!" she said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

Osaka had nothing but nice things to say about Kvitova after the match.

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"I want to be the very best", she said.

But there was this, which was no small thing: Kvitova, who will now be ranked No. 2, proved to herself that she can be the player she used to be, and can contend for Grand Slam championships. Osaka survived a nervy implosion in the second set and won the first and third ones with polished brilliance.

"I'm just trying to take maximum from the minimum". Now, after two years of burgeoning stars and bewildering upsets, the sport has a woman ready to lead from the top. Behind a tennis player is always a team and I am really grateful, so thank you guys.

Naomi Osaka paid a gracious tribute to Petra Kvitova after defeating the Czech in a classic Australian Open final at Melbourne Park.

However, Osaka will be remembered for her dominating tennis this time around, rather than umpiring decisions. For Osaka, the victory made her the new No. 1 in the world, and the first Japanese player to ever rise to No. 1.

Kvitova said the pain of losing was secondary to the pride she felt at being back on the biggest stage.

MELBOURNE-With a resilience forged in the strife-torn US Open final, Naomi Osaka clinched her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday, but this time there was no drama that could sour her triumph.

Kvitova would not surrender, saving three break points before again forcing Osaka to serve it out, but the Japanese champion managed it on the second attempt for a famous victory.

"For me, I feel like it hasn't really sunk in".