Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to clinch Australian Open title

By Kevin Skiver

/ CBS Sports

Naomi Osaka is just 21 years old, but she's already establishing herself as one of tennis' premiere players. The Japanese star beat No. 8-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 in the Australian Open women's final on Saturday, notching her second straight Grand Slam victory after winning the U.S. Open in September.

It caps off a brilliant run for the No. 4 seed Osaka, who had to beat the likes of Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova just to get to this point.

The win will result in Osaka getting her first career No. 1 Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranking to kick off her third year doing the full Grand Slam circuit. She's the first player from Japan to achieve the highest ranking — man or woman — and she'll be the youngest player to get No. 1 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.

Against Kvitova, Osaka finished with nine aces. Both women had three break points over the course of the match, and Osaka's first serve was a high point for her. She won 76 percent of her first serves, and on second serves that number dropped down to 50 percent. Kvitova was in the same ballpark, winning 71 percent of her first serves and 51 percent of her second serves.

Osaka took the first set in a hard-fought tiebreaker, eventually winning 7-6 (7-2). Kvitova fought back to win the second set and force a decisive third set (Osaka's fourth in five matches) with a 7-5 win. Although Osaka seemed gutted by losing the set — in which she dropped three championship points and left the court in tears, she refocused herself. Osaka continued to do what she's done all tournament and ground out the third set with a 6-4 win, completing the match with the grit she's finished every match all Open.

Exhilarating and emotional, the 2019 women's final was one of the most dramatic matches in #AusOpen history.

Match report 👉 https://t.co/cLNInZrC2E pic.twitter.com/ud7Fg4KS2x

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2019

Kvitova and Osaka were both crowd favorites, with Osaka capping an incredible comeback story by making her first Grand Slam final appearance since 2014, when she won at Wimbledon. In that four-year gap, Kvitova has battled mononucleosis and a home invasion that led to a knife attack which injured tendons and nerves in her left hand. After the match, Kvitova was all class.

Osaka was thrilled by her new status as the WTA's best in the world.

"I'm beyond excited to become the new WTA World No.1," said Osaka, via the WTA. "I've always dreamt of being in this position and I am honored to be part of the elite group of players who have reached the No.1 ranking.

She had nothing but nice things to say about Kvitova after the match, which went on for just under two-and-a-half hours, ending after 2 hours and 27 minutes.

"You've been through so much," Osaka said to Kvitova while receiving her trophy, according to The Washington Post. "I'm really honored to have played you in the final of a Grand Slam."

Naomi Osaka of Japan kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup following victory in her Women's Singles Final match against Petra Kvitova on during day 13 of the 2019 Australian Open on January 26, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

First published on January 26, 2019

CBS Interactive

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