27 January, 2019
The never-say-die Kvitova forced a deciding set before Osaka finally edged ahead with a decisive break early in the third.
The Japanese, who won 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-4 on the night, was visibly frustrated after failing to convert three championship points before losing the second set but regained her focus in the third.
But Osaka struck straight back by winning four games in a row to take command of the match.
Kvitova would not surrender, saving three break points before again forcing Osaka to serve it out. At 21, she is still young enough that if she tries to rent a auto nearly anywhere in America, she will have to pay a surcharge. "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". We played a third set.
The pair had never met before and Osaka initially struggled to unlock the lanky left-hander´s serve, while Kvitova at times could not handle her opponent´s powerful returns. She was up a set, had three consecutive match points in the second set and for a brief moment held the trophy with one hand. An extremely zen grown-up.
"I felt like I didn't want to have any regrets", Osaka said.
The Australian Open final was the deepest Kvitova has gone at a major since the attack and although disappointed to lose, she knew how far she had come. "I don't know if that makes sense". I felt like the match wasn't completely done, but it was done, you know? That's a very human thing to do. "I just set up the mind that I really wanted to come back, and I just did everything".
"To my team, I don't think I would have made it through this week behind you guys. I didn't waste any energy reacting too much". "I don't think I won any points on her serve before that".
Kvitova was in her first grand slam final since her hitting hand was badly injured after being stabbed in a home invasion in late 2016. Before the Australian Open, she was ranked No.5 in the world. Capriati was 24. Osaka is 21. Now she's leaving as No. 1.
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Moments after winning what will be remembered as one of the greatest slugfests in Grand Slam history, Naomi Osaka stood at center court, shoulder-to-shoulder with Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova, and allowed the slightest satisfied smile to slowly lift her cheeks.
She later spoke of the moment as "bittersweet" and one she wanted to move on from only a day after it occurred.
"For me, I feel like it hasn't really sunk in". For me was a big surprise. Now, after two years of burgeoning stars and bewildering upsets, the sport has a woman ready to lead from the top.
Her victory at Melbourne Park finally gave her the moment she had earned a year ago - lifting a grand slam trophy in front of an adoring crowd. That's how I was thinking actually. "I'm aware of all the work I put in".
"You just need to get used to the attention as well". Not only on the court but be able to kind of live normal life.
She regained her cool and came out firing in the third, backing herself and clipping a clean backhand victor after another Kvitova double fault brought up break point in the third game. "I think that she is in shock", he said as Osaka took her seat in the Nine studio at Melbourne Park.
"I was just executing my orders". I feel great. I'm playing great tennis. "I can't really act that entitled". In a way, it's nearly like a sleeper cell: You just have to turn your brain off and rely on your training to kick in by instinct.
Her ability to revert to her training is a remarkable and rare talent.