Naomi Osaka cruised to the Australian Open 2021 title by beating Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3.
By doing so, she registered her fourth victory in as many Grand Slam finals and became the first woman since Monica Seles to win all her first four Grand Slam finals.
Given that Seles achieved this feat 30 years ago, it gives you an idea of how monumental the achievement is. Given greats like Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Steffi Graf could not manage this record.
With Serena turning 40 and having not won a single Grand Slam title in four years, many are calling Osaka the new face of women’s tennis. The 23 year old Japanese star knocked Serena out of the Australian Open after a comprehensive victory in the semifinal and then got the better of Jennifer Brady in the finals.
When asked after the title victory about how many Grand Slam titles she was targeting, Osaka was diplomatic in her reply. She said that she didn’t have a particular number in her mind for the long run and was looking to go to 5 to begin with, and then target 7 or 8.
Osaka says that she doesn’t like to think about the big picture and live in the moment. At the same time, she repeated that winning the Australian Open was a big honour for her, but she doesn’t just does not want to put too much pressure on herself.
Osaka has been sensational on hard courts, winning twice at Melbourne Park and at Flushing Meadows but has not been really able to turn up the heat elsewhere. In fact, the Japanese tennis star has never made it past the third round on the clay courts of the French Open or the grass courts of the Wimbledon.
Osaka says that she continues to strive to improve her record on those courts as well, but also confesses that she didn’t grow up playing on grass at all. At the same time, she thinks that she can do with some more luck on clay courts and reiterated that she did not play that badly in the French Open last year.
If Osaka manages to win the upcoming French Open, she will take long strides towards becoming the face of women’s tennis, particularly with Serena Williams in the last leg of her career.