Osaka edges Kvitova for Australian Open title, No

Centre stage Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates with the trophy

Centre stage Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates with the trophy

With a resilience forged in the strife-torn US Open final, Naomi Osaka clinched her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday, but this time there was no drama that could sour her triumph. The older generation will put up a fight, as Kvitova did tonight, and perhaps even win sometimes, but their time is fading like the proverbial Melbourne sun.

She was rattled further after losing a challenge in the next, bringing up break point with a cross-court backhand but was unable to stop Kvitova holding.

The Japanese beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2) 5-7 6-4 in Melbourne on Saturday.

But there was this, which was no small thing: Kvitova, who will now be ranked No. 2, proved to herself that she can be the player she used to be, and can contend for Grand Slam championships.

"But for now, I'm more happy that I won this trophy".

"You just want to play better". Osaka regained her composure though and broke Kvitova in the final set to win her second consecutive grand slam, the second in her short career.

According to many tennis commentators, Osaka's mental strength was still up for debate, despite her chaotic US Open championship win over Serena Williams.

That ugly encounter had left Osaka crying during the acceptance speeches, when fans were booing Carlos Ramos, who had been called a "liar" and a "thief" by Williams.

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. "Maybe in the next tournament I play, if I see the number one next to my name, I'll feel something", she said.

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"You were there every single day supporting me and staying positive for me, which I really needed".

The title win also means Osaka will become the first tennis player from Japan to reach No. 1 in the rankings. I've always wanted to play you. "It's been a while in a final for me", said an emotional Kvitova. And definitely feels great.

So in the end, Kvitova did not collect what would have been her third major trophy; instead, Osaka got her second.

It was saved, but there was nothing Osaka could do on a second break point, having no answer to a Kvitova crosscourt forehand to give the Czech a 2-0 advantage.

However, Osaka will be remembered for her dominating tennis this time around, rather than umpiring decisions.

Kvitova will become the new world number two on Monday, capping an incredible and courageous rise after there were genuine doubts whether she would return following the trauma of nearly three years ago.

But that is when Osaka began to crank through the gears and dropped just two points as she took the first set. Her last loss after winning the opening set in a tour match came against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Tianjin back in 2016. Now she's leaving as No. 1.

Osaka regained her cool and clipped a clean backhand victor to take a break point in the third game of the decider, going on to see off a Kvitova break opportunity, her mental demons put to bed.

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