Published: Sun, January 27, 2019
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Australian Open women's final 2019

Australian Open women's final 2019

Following the game, a triumphant Osaka began her speech to the crowd with an apology.

"It's painful, for sure", she told reporters.

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.

When the youngster moved a break up in set two, having been 2-0 down, a straight-sets victory appeared likely. Kvitova was in the same ballpark, winning 71 percent of her first serves and 51 percent of her second serves.

She had missed the tournament two years ago while recovering from an attack by a knife-wielding home intruder that left her with a stab wound to her racket hand. She then squealed in agony as Kvitova broke her again to take the second set on a double fault.

Osaka's victory Down Under, and accompanying post-match presentation in which both players were handed generous plaudits, was all very different to the win over Serena Williams in NY back in September. It happened to Elina Svitolina at the 2017 French Open.

Osaka tried to describe what the tennis-watching audience sees as a unique poise and maturity that allows her to come back from game-point losses that would psychologically decimate other players, even veterans. But Osaka calmed down.

There was not an ounce of bitterness as Osaka accepted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup from Asia's first Grand Slam champion Li Na, with only warm cheers ringing from the Rod Laver Arena terraces.

No 1 also was a fuzzy idea to her.

Additionally, Osaka's win makes her the youngest top-seated player since Caroline Wozniacki held the No. 1 spot in 2010, when she was only 20, according to Business Insider. "She started swinging from the fences".

With Kvitova up 6-5, Osaka served to stay in the second set, but faltered again.

But it's hard to see Osaka falling away like Jelena Ostapenko or Garbiñe Muguruza did after their Slam glory.

Now on a 14-match win streak at the Grand Slams, some of the greats of the game lauded her achievements.

"I think she was able to win because her serves were on target", 9-year-old Chihiro Matoba said after Osaka beat the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova.

Osaka might be forgiven for not being the most polished speaker.

"She's going to be a big star in Australian tennis". Hopefully this gives her the motivation to do something the same.

Of all Osaka's numbers on this night, one was pre-eminent.

Naomi has an older sister who also plays tennis. The company pulled the ad.

Yet there was nothing to dampen Osaka's celebrations on this occasion, after she extended her winning streak at the highest level to 14 matches and became the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to follow up her first slam success by winning the next major. She has already been open about her mental health struggles, a welcome tune for a generation more aware of mental wellness than any before it. 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. She has more than earned the right to be her slightly awkward and self-aware self.

Merely standing there was enough to stir her emotions. Fighting is in Kvitova's DNA and the Czech fired herself up. There's nearly no need to compare the two (Serena and Naomi) anymore.

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