Naomi Osaka wins Australian Open title

One year later, 21-year-old Osaka is the defending US Open and Australian Open champion, the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam and the first player in 18 years to win her first two majors in consecutive events.

Kvitova was also looking to become the oldest first-time women's world No 1, at 28 years and 326 days, and the ninth different women's grand slam singles champion in a row.

A rattled Osaka nearly blew her title hopes with one hand on the trophy when she failed to convert three championship points leading 5-3 in the second set. "In the end, it wasn't", she said after Osaka rallied to take a decisive break in the third set.

But Osaka regained her composure and her big-shot ability down the stretch, breaking to lead 2-1 with a cross-court backhand victor and holding on the rest of the way.

Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, emroiled in a row over a Serena Williams cartoon past year after the US Open controversy, said that this time round there was "no sulking loser" to spoil Osaka's party.

Melbourne Park erupted in thunderous cheers as the Japanese youngster fell to one knee, head bowed, before collecting the trophy from China's Li Na - who lifted the same silverware in 2014 to become the first Asian to win a major. She would not let this lead disappear.

She was unable to convert five break points in the first set but forced a tie-break, only for Osaka to run away with it.

On the women's side, all eyes will be on Serena Williams as she aims for Grand Slam number 24. Much of the aftermath of that game was dominated by Williams' disagreement with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who she called a "thief".

The victor at Melbourne Park will also move to No. 1 for the first time when the next women's rankings are released.

More news: I'm honoured to have played you - Champion Osaka hails Kvitova

The Czech at times had wondered if she would ever play tennis again following a horrific home invasion in late 2016, which left her with severe hand injuries. "And now, after winning the Australian Open and becoming world number 1, she is a superstar!"

Here's one measure of how even it was: Each finished with 33 winners. There was plenty of strong serving, clean hitting and good movement. She broke back and then went ahead for 3-2 when the wheels came off for the Czech, spraying errors in being broken to love.

Kvitova showed more emotion in defeat than Naomi Osaka did in victory - none of it was negative.

How pivotal was that moment?

Throughout what was surely not how she envisioned winning her first Grand Slam, Osaka remained calm and gracious. Osaka, meanwhile, entered the day having won 59 matches anywhere after going up by a set.

Kvitova regrouped with an early break in the second but Osaka did not panic, immediately breaking back.

All that really matters, of course, is that Osaka righted herself in time to win.

While her indifference is endearing, in reality, it happened months ago. "I didn't have a choice".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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