Melbourne Australia—When Naomi Osaka reaches the finals, she takes her tennis game to another level.
Osaka on Saturday won her fourth Grand Slam title by beating American Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 in Melbourne was played in front of 7,500 fans — 50 percent capacity — in Rod Laver Arena due to Covid-19.
Naomi has won her past 21 matches at all tournaments dating to last season. That includes a championship at last year’s U.S. Open. She also won the U.S. Open in 2018, and the Australian Open in 2019.
Osaka, 23, now has four Grand Slam titles to her credit, adding to the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Opens, plus her win in Australia in 2019. She has never lost a major final. Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had all finished as runners-up at least once before they reached four titles.
“I feel like every opportunity that I play a Slam is an opportunity to win a Slam,” Osaka said. “So I think maybe I put that pressure on myself too much. But honestly, it’s working out in my favor right now.”
Osaka set the tone early used a six-game run from 4-all in the opening set in the Australian Open to take control and improve to 4-0 in major finals. Naomi is the first woman to start her career that way since Monica Seles did it 30 years ago.
Osaka took the opening set of the Australian Open final against Jennifer Brady by a 6-4 score.
Brady is a 25-year-old American who was playing in her first Grand Slam final and just had a problem with Osaka’s backhand all night long.
Osaka’s fourth title ties her with Kim Clijsters and brings her within one shy of Maria Sharapova and Martina Hingis. Her four wins in her first four major finals trails only Monica Seles’ six in that category.
Naomi seeded No. 3, takes home $2.1 million from the Australian Open, while No. 22 Brady earns $1.2 million in her first Slam final. In May, Osaka was named by Forbes as the highest -earning female athlete with $37.4 million in the previous 12 months from prize money and endorsements, $1.4 million more than her idol, Serena Williams.
“I want to thank you guys for coming and watching,” Osaka told the fans while holding the trophy. “It feels really incredible for me. I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans, so just to have this energy it really means a lot. Thank you so much for coming. Thank you for opening your hearts and your arms towards us.
“For sure I feel like playing a Grand Slam right now is a super privilege and it’s something I won’t take for granted so thank you for this opportunity.”
Brady had one of her four double-faults on set point in the first set to give it away, and then quickly got down a break in the second. Naomi was 4-of-5 on break points, while Brady was 2-of-4.
Osaka broke Jennifer Brady again for a 4-0 lead in the second.
Brady regained her composure to get one break back and cut it to 4-2.
With Osaka serving at 5-3, she held at love, winning the the title with a service winner. She calmly walked to the net, bowed and embraced Brady before raising her hands to the crowd.
“She’s such an inspiration to us all and I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she’s doing,” Brady said of Osaka.
Osaka will now look forward to improving her tennis game on grass and clay. Naomi has never advanced past the third round at Wimbledon or Roland Garros, but she is still young and she is on her way to become more of an all-court player.
“She’s only getting better,” Brady said, “so congratulations.”