Naomi Osaka crushed American Jennifer Brady in straight sets to win her second Australian Open title on Saturday.
Keen to lay down a marker early in the big final, Osaka opened the proceedings with a clinical service game.
Showing confidence from her semifinal win, Brady ran up a 40-0 lead but Osaka reduced the deficit to 30-40 before leveling the game at deuce. The Japanese followed up with her first breakpoint.
However, the American managed to bring it back to deuce before serving out the game to go 1-1 in the first set.
Brady looked to put the pressure back on the Osaka serve in the third game. However, Osaka pulled out her big serves to hold comfortably.
Cranking up the heat on the American’s serve, Osaka claimed three breakpoints in the fourth game before closing it out to go 3-1 up.
The American looked to hit back in the next game, going 15-30 up. However, the Japanese yet again summoned her booming serves to go 40-30. Fighting back, Brady scored two winners back-to-back to be on breakpoint.
Coming right back into the contest, the American broke back to reduce the deficit to 3-2. She followed up with a convincing service hold to level the score at 3-3.
The following game saw some fascinating exchange between the two, with Brady going 15-30 up on the Osaka serve. However, the Japanese roared back to score game point and eventually hold.
The Japanese was winning a high percentage of her points on first serve, while the American won over 70% of hers on her second.
Osaka pulled away to another breakpoint on Brady’s serve in the eighth game, the latter roared back to take it to deuce. The Japanese kept up the squeeze on her serve but the American managed to serve it out to go 4-4.
It was Brady’s turn again to crack up heat on Osaka’s serve in the next and she went 30-40 up, hoping to go 5-4 clear on serve. However, showing nerves of steel, the Japanese fought back to close the game out in her favor.
Serving to stay in the set, Brady conceded another breakpoint which Osaka converted to take the opening set 6-4.
After initial errors, the Japanese seemed to be finding top form and the second set wasn’t going to be an easy comeback road for Brady, with Osaka desperate to press for an early lead.
That’s exactly how things looked to shape up as Osaka opened the second set with a service hold and followed up with another break of serve, her third, to go 2-0 clear.
The signs were ominous for the American as the Japanese held serve again, extending her lead to 3-0.
Looking to press the pedal harder, Osaka ran up a 15-30 lead on the American’s serve before converting her fifth breakpoint to take a virtually unassailable 4-0 lead.
The Japanese looked to be racing to her second Australian Open title and her career’s fourth Grand Slam, as she brought out her bazookas again to go 30-0 on serve.
Desperate for a turnaround, Brady took the game to deuce and followed up with a breakpoint win to reduce the deficit to 1-4.
Continuing with her fightback, the American held serve to bring the lead further down to 2-4. However, Osaka played out a clinical service game to extend her lead to 5-2.
Battling to stay in the match, Brady managed to hold in the face of extreme pressure from the Japanese.
Serving for the championship, Osaka went 30-0 clear and closed it out to record a thumping 6-4, 6-3 win.
After dropping her opening service game against Serena Williams in the semifinals, Osaka literally blinded the 39-year-old American with a flurry of unstoppable winners off her handle.
More of that aggressive brand of tennis was on view against the 24-ranked Brady but the latter was equal to the task.
Coming into the Australian Open final, the Japanese World Number 3 held a marginal 2-1 advantage in head-to-head battles with the 25-year-old American.
Their last meeting came in the semifinal of the US Open last year and it was a close affair as the match went to three sets before the Japanese managed to close out a win.
Another interesting piece of trivia going into the title clash, especially considering that the year’s first Grand Slam is a hard-court affair, was that the two were tied 1-1 in terms of matches played on concrete surfaces.
Brady had stunned Osaka in straight sets in a WTA hard court event in the US in 2014.
Also her defeat in the US Open last-four had whetted the 25-year-old’s appetite to even the score at Melbourne Park.