Highlights: Osaka regains compsoure to clinch title after wasting three match points
- Author: Angelo Rivera Jan 27, 2019,
Jan 27, 2019, 0:38
Others paid equal tribute to Kvitova, who had staved off three championship points in typically gutsy fashion in the second set to nearly turn the tide of the match before Osaka reasserted herself in the third set.
Osaka had three championship points in the second set but Kvitova rallied when her game looked like it was about to collapse to win the second set.
After Kvitova double-faulted to offer up a break point at 1-all, Osaka converted it with a cross-court backhand victor.
Her jubilation was a marked contrast to Osaka's maiden Slam win a year ago, when she tearfully hid her face as boos rang around Flushing Meadows in the wake of losing finalist Serena Williams' tirade at the umpire.
Her US Open victory was the first by a Japanese player and she is now the youngest woman to win back-to-back majors since Martina Hingis in 1998 and the youngest number one since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010. But mostly, thank you for sticking with me even when we didn't know if I would able to hold a racquet again. "I never really put kind of this ranking-wise to my head", Kvitova said when asked if she thought she would make it back to this level.
Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion of 2011 and 2014, had been looking to secure a fairytale win, just over two years on from sustaining career-threatening injuries to her left hand in a knife attack at her home. Kvitova was in the same ballpark, winning 71 percent of her first serves and 51 percent of her second serves.
"I read notes before this but I still forgot the rest of what I was supposed to say", Osaka said with a laugh. Sometimes, I don't know, like I feel like I don't want to waste my energy doing stuff like that. "Especially against Petra. Petra has these comebacks in the second set and then the third set is like, 6-0 or 6-1". Like in the third set of my match today, I literally just tried to turn off all my feelings.
The Czech had not dropped a set at Melbourne Park prior to facing Osaka and boasted a fantastic record in finals, but she was denied on this occasion despite showing tremendous character.
"Winning back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments is a rare and special achievement, and I'm thrilled these results have propelled Naomi to the top of the women's game", said Chris Evert, the first ever WTA world No.1.
"It's insane, I can't believe I just played a final of a Grand Slam again. I really don't think I would've made it through this week without you guys", she said.
Kvitova would not surrender, saving three break points before again forcing Osaka to serve it out.
Osaka managed to stop the rot, though, making it 1-1 in the third set as her coach Sascha Bajin leapt to his feet and shouted encouragement.
Saturday's match stayed between the lines, as Osaka closed out the victory on her serve after being unable to do so on her first opportunity in the second set.