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Osaka edges Kvitova for Australian Open title

Osaka edges Kvitova for Australian Open title

"It's just how it is", she said. "I just hope I can get through this".

"In the end", she said, "it wasn't".

The Japanese prodigy claimed her first Open crown and the world No.1 ranking with a steely 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4 victory over gallant Czech Petra Kvitova in Saturday night's winner-takes-all showdown at Melbourne Park.

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. "I feel great. I'm playing great tennis".

"Thanks to my team". "I don't think I played something really badly, but I just think I should maybe have gone a little bit more aggressive on one or two rallies".

She yelled at herself.

"I want to be the very best", she said.

To everyone who just hummed the rest of the song, yes, that is from the Pokémon theme song.

The past year as a whole has actually been quite incredible for the Japanese-Haitian sensation. The next global superstar has arrived.

No. 1 in the world. Not a bad perk, Osaka would surely say. She headed to the locker room after the second set with a towel draped over her head.

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. She was later issued three violations, including one for breaking her racket.

Her injuries required a lengthy operation, however remarkably the two-time Wimbledon champion returned to professional tennis the following May.

"It's insane. I can not believe I just played the final of a grand slam again", said the 28-year-old, who deservedly earned a huge ovation from the crowd.

"I think if I didn't regroup after the second set, then I would have looked back on this match and probably cried or something".

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A happy Naomi Osaka at her post-match press conference.

It was, make no mistake, a stunning collapse. "For me, Grand Slams is something you dream about playing as a kid". It happened to Elina Svitolina at the 2017 French Open. But Osaka calmed down.

Still, Osaka had a chance to serve for the match, but she passed that up too, double faulting to hand Kvitova two break points and she duly obliged.

On the women's side, all eyes will be on Serena Williams as she aims for Grand Slam number 24.

On top of that, Osaka will rise to No. 1 in the rankings. She also thanked her team. "She started swinging from the fences".

"I am so pleased for Naomi, she deserved this win", said 52-year-old local Hitomi Takeda. Although this was their first meeting, it's easy to see Kvitova and Osaka battling at the top for years to come.

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.

Osaka might be forgiven for not being the most polished speaker. She will nearly assuredly go into the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as Japan's biggest superstar. Now she's based in Florida and has dual citizenship. The answer, until Osaka, was everyone and no one at all.

"Her exciting brand of tennis, coupled with the dignity she displays on and off court, is a winning combination that tennis fans really embrace". She was not afraid to publicly call out her sponsor Nissin this week for portraying her as pale-skinned in an anime-themed advertisement.

Kvitova had won her last 22 Grand Slam matches after winning the first set.

After Indian Wells, it was hard to maintain some of her momentum. She has more than earned the right to be her slightly awkward and self-aware self. The older generation will put up a fight, as Kvitova did tonight, and perhaps even win sometimes, but their time is fading like the proverbial Melbourne sun.

The Japanese showed how nugget she was against Serena Williams in NY and this occasion did not faze her either. After all, it was only the third title of her career.

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

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