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Osaka: Latest win differs from 'bittersweet' US triumph

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Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to win Australian Open

Japan's Naomi Osaka battled past Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7/2) 5-7 6-4 to win her first Australian Open crown on Saturday and become the new world number one.

In securing victory in Melbourne after her stunning win over Serena Williams in the US Open previous year, Osaka also clinched the world number-one spot, the first Asian to do so.

A rattled Osaka nearly blew her title hopes with one hand on the trophy when she failed to convert three championship points when up 5-3 in the second set. The powerful Kvitova backhand helped create two breaks points in a tense fifth game, but the gritty 21-year-old saved them both.

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

However as Naomi Osaka now sits in position of total prominence as the new world no.1 ranked player after adding the Australian Open to the US Open she won last September, she must wonder how much more onerous and traumatic finals get can. Wins her second Grand Slam at the Australian Open and becomes the first player since 2001 to win back-to-back Slams after their maiden title.

"But mostly thank you (to my team) for sticking with me even (if) we didn't know if I would be able to hold this racket again".

However, a dramatic shift in momentum followed as Kvitova fought back from 0-40 down when serving to stay in the match and then capitalised on the increasingly erratic form of her stunned rival, who could not hide her frustration. From then on, she applied most of the pressure on Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon victor.

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She still had to see off a Kvitova break opportunity in the next but held comfortably, her mental demons put to bed. "There's a lot of stuff I want to say about, like, how I felt and whatever". Now, after two years of burgeoning stars and bewildering upsets, the sport has a woman ready to lead from the top. Not only is she playing great tennis, but she's doing it against top players and she's dealing with the pressure of being a defending champion very well. "So just thank you everyone and I'm really honored to have played in this final".

However, Osaka will be remembered for her dominating tennis this time around, rather than umpiring decisions. Her last loss after winning the opening set in a tour match came against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Tianjin back in 2016.

This was her first major title match since she won her second Wimbledon championship in 2014.

'But I think I already won two years ago.

"I can't really believe", Kvitova told the Rod Laver Arena crowd Friday night, "I played the final of a Grand Slam again".

Naomi Osaka has been roundly praised by the tennis world after winning her second career Grand Slam tournament.

It was Osaka who was the first to get ahead, tearing through the tiebreaker by grabbing five points in a row - four via winners - to go up 5-1.

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