MELBOURNE, Australia — Naomi Osaka defeated Petra Kvitova, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-Four, on Saturday to win the Australian Open and attain the No. 1 rating in ladies’s tennis.

It was the second consecutive main title for the fourth-seeded Osaka, 21, who defeated Serena Williams in straight units at america Open in September. The final lady to win back-to-back Grand Slam singles titles was Williams, who claimed the primary three majors in 2015.

Osaka — born in Japan and raised within the U.S. by a Japanese mom and a Haitian father — is the primary participant representing Japan to be No. 1 in both the WTA or ATP rankings.

Not like at america Open, the place Osaka misplaced just one set on her technique to profitable the title, she was prolonged to a few units in three of her first six matches in Melbourne: by Hsieh Su-Wei within the third spherical, Anastasija Sevastova within the fourth and Karolina Pliskova within the semifinals.

Osaka wanted a 3rd set once more on Saturday. She held three match factors with Kvitova serving at Three-5 within the second set and couldn’t convert any of them. Osaka then served for the match and was damaged. Kvitova gained 4 straight video games to take the set.

However Osaka regrouped, breaking Kvitova in third recreation of the ultimate set and holding on for the championship.

Osaka’s coach, Sascha Bajin, stated the early assessments had strengthened her resolve and fortified her confidence.

The trophy presentation for Osaka’s title in New York was marred by followers booing controversial rulings towards Williams by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos. On Saturday there have been solely resounding cheers as Li Na, the primary Grand Slam singles champion from Asia, offered Osaka with the trophy.

It’s not straightforward to observe a primary Grand Slam title with a second, as Osaka’s vanquished opponent can attest. Kvitova, now 28, was the age that Osaka is as we speak when she gained her first Wimbledon championship in 2011. She stated she struggled with the heightened consideration and expectations that got here with the title. Kvitova, who was the eighth seed in Melbourne, gained a second main, additionally at Wimbledon, however needed to wait three years — not 4 months, like Osaka.

Kvitova was taking part in her first Grand Slam ultimate since she sustained career-threatening accidents whereas preventing off a knife-wielding intruder in her Czech Republic condominium in late 2016. She wanted an operation to restore nerve and tendon injury in all 5 fingers of her dominant left hand and missed the primary 5 months of the 2017 season.

Osaka took solely two weeks off on the finish of 2018, which spoke to her urge for food for enchancment, Bajin stated. Osaka’s want, mixed with a flexible, aggressive recreation, has spirited her to the highest of the ladies’s recreation in dizzying style. She is the primary lady since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win her first two main titles again to again.

Osaka, who got here into this event final 12 months ranked No. 72, stated: “If you’re little, you watch the Grand Slams, you watch all of the gamers play legendary matches right here. For me, that is crucial event. There’s solely 4 of them a 12 months, so in fact I wish to do the perfect that I can.”

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