Australian Open: Osaka already eyeing fifth slam after Melbourne triumph

By Sports Desk February 20, 2021

Naomi Osaka has set her sights on a fifth grand slam trophy after winning the Australian Open.

Osaka added a fourth major title to her collection thanks to Saturday's 6-4 6-3 victory over 22nd seed Jennifer Brady in Melbourne.

Former world number one Osaka became the first woman since Monica Seles in the early 1990s to emerge victorious from the first four grand slam finals of her career, having boasted a perfect 3-0 record following success at the US Open (2018 and 2020) and Australian Open (2019).

Osaka has been tipped to dominate the WTA Tour and celebrate further major success, but the Japanese star and third seed is not looking too far into the future.

"I'm taking it in sections," Osaka, who reeled off six successive games from 4-4 in the first set against Brady to take control, said during her post-match news conference.

"For right now, I'm trying to go for five. You know, after five I would think about maybe dividing the 10, so maybe seven or eight.

"I like to take things not big-picture. For me, I like to live in the moment. It's an honour that he [Mats Wilander] said that [I would get a minimum of 10], of course.

"But I don't want to weigh myself down with pressure and expectations. I know that the people that I'm playing against are the best players in the world and, if my time comes to win another Grand Slam, it will come.

"But for right now I can only control what I can control, and that's working hard and giving myself opportunities."

Osaka - who fended off a pair of match points against Garbine Muguruza in the last 16 at Melbourne Park - also became the seventh woman to have won the Australian Open after saving match point, following in the footsteps of Seles (1991), Jennifer Capriati (2002), Serena Williams (2003 and 2005), Li Na (2014), Angelique Kerber (2016) and Caroline Wozniacki (2018).

The 23-year-old won in 77 minutes to become the 12th woman in the Open Era to clinch multiple Australian Open titles. 

Osaka has now gone 21 matches without defeat - she is only the third woman since 2010 to enjoy an unbeaten streak of 20 or more matches, joining Serena (27 wins between 2014 WTA Finals and 2015 Madrid) and Azarenka (26 wins between 2012 Sydney and Miami).

Asked about her perfect record in slam finals, Osaka added: "I feel like for me I'm not sure if it's something you're born with.

"But I know that I didn't play a lot of tournaments when I was a kid, so I'd always want to take the opportunity whenever someone was watching me, I'd feel like it was more fun that way.

"So maybe that's how I developed wanting a crowd and wanting to play in front of more people.

"I also think it's because I watched a lot of grand slams growing up and seeing the crowds, seeing Arthur Ashe Stadium, seeing how it was in Australia and Rod Laver, and wanting to play in front of people and wanting to be the person holding up the trophy."

Following in the footsteps of Seles and 20-time slam champion Roger Federer as the only three players to have won their first four major deciders, Osaka said: "That's very amazing company. I hope that I can have one grain of how their career has unfolded.

"You can only wish and you can only just keep going down your own path. But, yeah, it's definitely something crazy to hear."

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