The match had all the makings of an epic final in a tight first set, but Osaka’s class and experience ultimately proved too important as she clinched a 6-4 6-3 victory. in just under an hour and a half.
It was the first Grand Slam final with a large crowd since last year’s Australian Open and both players producing the highest quality shots – especially in the first set – those who had the chance to win a ticket were treated to a show.
The victory gives Osaka her fourth Grand Slam title at just 23 years old and she looks set to be a dominant force in women’s tennis for a while.
“First of all I want to congratulate Jennifer, we played in the US Open semifinals so a few months ago, and I told anyone who would listen that you were going to be a problem – and I was right!” Osaka said during his interview in court.
“I want to thank my team, I have been with them for too long. We have been in quarantine together and to me they are like my family, they are with me during training, games, nervous discussions before my games, I really appreciate them, then this one is for you.
“I want to thank you guys [the fans], thank you for coming to watch … I did not play my last grand slam [the US Open] with the fans having that energy really means a lot, thank you so much for coming. Thank you for opening your hearts and arms to us and for sure I feel like playing a grand slam right now is a super privilege … so thank you for this opportunity. “
The duo traded fierce rallies in the opening stages, with Brady returning Osaka’s soaring ground blows with interest. The American was showing none of the nerves that seemed to hinder her at times during Thursday’s semi-final against Karolina Muchova and immediately looked home in her first Grand Slam final.
After each breaking serve early on, Osaka and Brady faced off for the remainder of the first set and it was Brady who seemed to have finally gained the upper hand.
One of the best rallies of the final so far has ended with the American chasing down a falling ball and playing a magnificent lob over Osaka’s head to earn a breaking point and potentially the chance to serve for the first set.
The exchange put the Australian crowd on their feet and recalled how much fans have been missed at tennis tournaments over the past year.
Osaka’s serve had been missed in her first service matches, but then she found a huge first serve when it was important to save the break point and close the game afterward.
It turned out to be the pivotal moment not only of the first set, but of the entire final. Osaka snapped Brady’s serve in the next game, largely thanks to two fortuitous rebounds, to close the set and completely change the momentum of the final.
Osaka had clearly found her rhythm and was now picking up Brady’s kicks at will, the American now missing the shots she took with ease in the first set.
The Japanese world No.3 took a 4-0 lead – winning six straight 4-4 games in the first set – to establish what would prove to be an unassailable lead.
To Brady’s credit, many players could have crumpled up at this point, but she showed admirable resilience to break Osaka’s serve and hold her own game to enjoy putting Osaka on its back. With the match feeling like some kind of anti-climax moments earlier, Brady made sure the final ended on a high.
Ultimately, however, that deficit early in the second set proved too large to be scaled up as Osaka prepared to categorically send off their opponent.
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