News ID: 280903
Published: 0302 GMT February 20, 2021

Osaka beats Brady at Australian Open for fourth major title

Osaka beats Brady at Australian Open for fourth major title
ALANA HOLMBERG/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Japan’s Naomi poses for a photo with the Australian Open trophy at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, on February 20, 2021.

Japan's Naomi Osaka cemented her place as the outstanding star of the women's game by beating American Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final to win her fourth Grand Slam title.

Osaka, 23, is unbeaten in major finals after a 6-4, 6-3 win in Melbourne, BBC Sport reported.

Osaka has now won two Australian Open titles after also triumphing at Melbourne Park in 2019, with her other Grand Slam successes coming at the US Open in 2018 and 2020.

She has not suffered a defeat since February 2020 after victory over Brady was her 21st successive match win.

Around 7,500 fans were allowed to watch the final on Rod Laver Arena and Osaka lapped up the acclaim after her US Open victory came behind closed doors.

"It feels incredible to have fans, I played the last Grand Slam without fans, to have this energy means a lot," said Osaka as she clutched the Daphne Akhurst Trophy.

"I feel like playing a Grand Slam is a privilege."

Osaka is the first women's player to win her first four Grand Slam finals since Monica Seles in 1991.

 

Defending dynasty

 

A very different Australian Open comes to a familiar end today as Novak Djokovic looks to thwart another challenge to his Melbourne Park dynasty from the latest Grand Slam aspirant in Daniil Medvedev.

The tournament has charted a rocky path through the COVID-19 pandemic and a snap five-day lockdown due to a local outbreak robbed it of much of its vitality, Reuters reported.

But a comforting sense of normality will pervade Rod Laver Arena when a healthy crowd files in for a final that could mark a shift in the tennis landscape.

Much like the tournament, world number one and defending champion Djokovic has been forced into crisis management at times during his campaign.

Pilloried in the leadup for petitioning organizers to ease strict quarantine protocols for players, the Serb struggled with an abdominal strain sustained in the third round.

His ability to manage the injury was key in bringing him within one match of a record-extending ninth Australian Open crown but he said he was fighting fit after beating Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals.

Victory over fourth seed Medvedev would mean an 18th Grand Slam title for Djokovic, pulling him within two of the record 20 shared by “Big Three” rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

While the 33-year-old Djokovic has never lost a final at Melbourne Park, his reign has rarely looked so vulnerable.

He suffered a huge scare against Dominic Thiem in the five-set decider last year, and Medvedev is possibly the player he would least like to face.

Not for nothing did Djokovic brand him “the man to beat.”

The rangy Russian has been a machine since November, clinching the Paris Masters, the ATP Finals and the team-based ATP Cup in a 20-match winning streak that has included 12 straight victories over top-10 opponents.

Djokovic was among Medvedev’s victims at the ATP Finals but when the Serb strolls onto his favorite center court today, the form-book is unlikely to figure.

With the exception of Thiem’s US Open win last year where Djokovic was disqualified for hitting a tennis ball into a line judge, the “Big Three” have won all the Slams since 2017.

“There has been a lot of talk about the new generations coming and taking over from the three of us but realistically that isn’t happening still,” Djokovic told Eurosport.

“I’m not going to stand here and hand it over to them.”

Contesting his second Grand Slam final but first in Australia, Medvedev is hungry for success after being edged by Nadal in a classic five-set decider at the 2019 US Open.

Djokovic might see something of himself in the confident 25-year-old, who boasts similarly elite court coverage, defense and shot-making.

Medvedev has added mental strength to his arsenal, which proved invaluable in his semifinal against Stefanos Tsitsipas as he closed out a tense third set after briefly wobbling in the face of a hostile crowd.

He has also shown willingness to indulge in a bit of niggle, saying the pressure is all on Djokovic as he chases the 20-slam record.

Though Medvedev has won three of their last four matches, he has only met Djokovic once at a Grand Slam, losing in four sets in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open.

He said he was happy to be the “challenger” against the “favorite”.

 

 

   
KeyWords
 
Comments
Comment
Name:
Email:
Comment:
Security Key:
Captcha refresh
Page Generated in 0/2887 sec