Naomi Osaka won her second career Australian Open and fourth Grand Slam title overall with a comprehensive 6-4 6-3 victory against American Jennifer Brady, who was contesting her first ever Grand Slam final. One of the most famous players in women’s tennis at the present, the 23 year old Osaka was more composed and confident than her opponent. The first set was a nip and tuck 43 minute affair where Osaka couldn’t retain an early break, but maintained pressure on Brady’s serve and broke to finish the set 6-4.
Brady struggled with consistency on her serve and seemed nervy the entire match. Failing to start off on the right foot kept Brady unsettled for the entirety of the match, and giving up the break to lose the first set seemed to lower her spirits while boosting Osaka’s confidence to a peak. Osaka began firing winners while Brady’s game remained jittery. The Japanese star was nearly unscathed on serve in the second set and in the end the 2021 Australian Open women’s final was a straight forward and routine affair with a smoother second set than the first despite Brady’s pesky resistance to avoid a washout. Converting 4 of 5 break point chances and winning 73% of her first serve points was a winning formula for Osaka.
Osaka now has multiple Grand Slams at both Hard Court majors (Australian and US Open), and her renown will only grow from this point. Osaka has now won a Grand Slam title the last four seasons (2018-2021) and be a top contender for the rest of the slams this year after she blitzed through a strong slate of players including Serena Williams in the semifinals, and Garbine Muguruza, who she beat in three sets in the fourth round.
While Brady’s straight set defeat will certainly be a disappointment, the 25 year old has reached the semis or better in her last two Grand Slams and will roar to a career high ranking, and her refusal to fade even when the odds were against her in the final is a sign that she’s more likely than not to be back at this stage, perhaps next time as champion.
The Australian Open is now just a men’s final away from completing a successful 2021 tournament under uniquely difficult conditions caused by the global COVID pandemic. Despite a lockdown in Melbourne during the tournament, and significant controversy around the tournament’s strict quarantine protocols in the end a champion was crowned and all of the matches were able to finish, including some instant classics.