JAPAN’s Naomi Osaka produced a dominant performance on Saturday night to defeat American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 and win her fourth Grand Slam title. Although the two sets were quite different, Osaka was far more consistent with her groundstrokes throughout the contest. Brady committed 31 unforced errors and four double faults for the match, far too many mistakes when you are competing against someone of Osaka’s calibre.
Osaka started the match well, holding her first service game to love and looking calm in the high-pressure environment. In contrast, Brady appeared to be very nervous (and excited) at the beginning of her first Grand Slam final. These nerves got the better of Brady in the fourth game, as she served a pair of double faults and handed Osaka the break to love. Osaka was hitting her forehands with great speed and accuracy from the middle of the court at this stage.
Brady immediately got the break back thanks to some powerful groundstrokes of her own that put Osaka under significant pressure. The 22nd seed started to get more comfortable as the set progressed, hitting numerous backhand winners down the line and surprisingly out-hitting Osaka from the baseline. As a result, Osaka started going for too much with her shots and made some unforced errors of her own.
Brady earned herself another break point opportunity at 4-4, but Osaka saved it with a well-placed forehand down the line. The match turned very quickly in the next game, as Brady cost herself the set with a pair of horror forehand errors.
Once Osaka had the first set in the bank, the match was played on her terms. She immediately held serve then played a brilliant crosscourt backhand to earn herself a break point in the second game. Another forehand error from Brady gave Osaka that all-important break, before the third seed won two more consecutive games and went 4-0 up. From there, it was difficult to see a scenario where Brady could come back.
Brady fought hard to get herself a break back, but forehand errors continued to haunt her. Osaka was simply a class above, holding serve from 4-2 onwards to claim her second Australian Open title.
Four of Osaka’s seven career titles to date have been in Grand Slams on hard courts, an incredible statistic that demonstrates her level of dominance on the quicker surfaces. Additionally, Osaka is now riding a 21-game winning streak and remains undefeated in Grand Slam finals. After the match, she thanked the Australian fans for their support throughout the tournament.
“I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans, so just to have this energy it means a lot,” Osaka said. “Thank you so much for coming. I feel like playing a Grand Slam is a super privilege right now and it’s something I won’t take for granted. Thank you for this opportunity.”
For Brady, it was an amazing effort to reach the final given she was one of the players that dealt with strict quarantine rules for two weeks leading into the tournament. She was full of praise for her opponent after the match.
“[Osaka’s] such an inspiration to us all and what she is doing for the game is amazing in getting the sport out there, and I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she is doing,” Brady said. “Hopefully I’m on this stage next time with this girl over here (referring to the winner’s trophy).”
Overall, both players will be happy with their performances over the last two weeks given the trying circumstances caused by the pandemic. Let’s hope the other three Grand Slams in 2021 run without too many complications.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN’S FiNAL RESULT:
 Naomi Osaka (JAP) defeated  Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-4 6-3
Picture credit: Getty Images
For more tennis news and analysis follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.