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."

Related items

  • Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals Bremer reveals Juventus crisis talks after embattled giants reach Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Gleison Bremer said his Juventus team-mates have pledged to ignore the Bianconeri's off-pitch woes after scoring the winner in Thursday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against Lazio.

    Bremer diverted Filip Kostic's cross home with a glancing header on the stroke of half-time as Juve clinched a 1-0 win over the Biancocelesti, teeing up a semi-final tie against Inter.

    The win provided welcome relief for a side sitting 13th in Serie A after being issued with a 15-point deduction last month, a sanction which has been compounded by a three-game winless run in the league. 

    Speaking after his goal sent Juve to their eighth Coppa Italia semi-final in nine seasons, Bremer admitted off-pitch issues had impacted the team in recent weeks, but revealed the squad's pledge to rediscover their focus.

    "I'm happy with this goal, but it was important to go through at this moment," the Brazil international told Mediaset.

    "We know we've played two games not up to par, but we talked to each other and what happens off the pitch cannot spill onto the pitch. The club will take care of it, we will take care of the pitch. 

    "Juventus are a top-level team, let's score as many points as possible and see where we'll be at end of the championship. 

    "At the beginning of the year we lost a little something, then we spoke and we found each other."

    Since the Coppa Italia quarter-finals became one-legged affairs in the 2008-09 season, Juve have won nine of their 10 such fixtures at home, the only exception being a 2011 defeat to Roma.

    Coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed Juve's mentality after the hard-fought victory, highlighting the improvements made since Sunday's shock defeat to Monza. 

    "The most important thing is the attitude, which was missing in the first half against Monza, where we conceded two easy goals," Allegri said.

    "The boys were good. They are responsible. They must understand that to win matches, in addition to tactics and technique, you need the right spirit. 

    "Today we won many tackles, we arrived first in duels, we defended well and played in an orderly and patient manner against good pressure from Lazio."

    Juventus were without Paul Pogba for Thursday's win, with the midfielder seeing his second debut for the club delayed once more after suffering another minor injury.

    Allegri does not expect him to return against Salernitana on Tuesday, saying: "Pogba is unlikely to be available in Salerno, because he's been doing little or nothing for a week. We hope to have him back as soon as possible because he's a player we count on. 

    "I've been in the world of football for 50 years. When things go against you, then you have to be patient to get out of it."

  • Juventus 1-0 Lazio: Bremer sends embattled Bianconeri to Coppa Italia semi-finals Juventus 1-0 Lazio: Bremer sends embattled Bianconeri to Coppa Italia semi-finals

    Juventus cast aside their recent woes to tee up an enticing Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter on Thursday as Gleison Bremer's first-half header guided them to a 1-0 win against Lazio.

    The Coppa Italia appears to represent Juve's best chance of silverware this season after a 15-point deduction ended their slim Serie A title hopes, and the hosts were good value for their win after dominating for long periods.

    Massimiliano Allegri's men missed two good chances before hitting the front on the stroke of half-time, with Bremer flicking Filip Kostic's inch-perfect delivery home.

    Juve were rarely troubled at the other end as Maurizio Sarri's visitors disappointed in the final third, and they will face their Derby d'Italia rivals across two legs in the last four after this routine win.

    Kostic drew a fingertip save from Luis Maximiano as Juve got on top after a tight opening to the contest, before Adrien Rabiot headed straight at the goalkeeper when left unmarked just before the half-hour mark.

    The Bianconeri made their pressure count one minute before the break as Bremer met Kostic's inswinging cross with a glancing header, which beat Maximiano to nestle in the bottom-left corner.

    Luis Alberto saw a long-range strike deflect narrowly over as Lazio improved following the half-time introduction of Pedro, while Danilo Cataldi worked Mattia Perin with a 25-yard free-kick.

    Juve substitute Moise Kean forced Maximiano into action at his near post following a rapid break with 20 minutes remaining, as the hosts looked to put the game to bed.

    Adam Marusic fizzed a long-range effort wide of the bottom-right corner as Lazio continued to hunt a leveller, but that was as close as they came to breaking down a resolute Juve backline.

  • Top seed Garcia recovers from set down to beat Van Uytvanck in Lyon Top seed Garcia recovers from set down to beat Van Uytvanck in Lyon

    Caroline Garcia came from a set behind to beat Alison Van Uytvanck and progress to the quarter-finals of the Lyon Open on Thursday.

    The French top seed looked to be in trouble as Belgian Van Uytvanck eased to the first set, before Garcia found her feet to come back and overwhelm her opponent 2-6 6-0 6-1.

    She will face Jasmine Paolini in the last eight after the Italian took just over an hour to dispose of Erika Andreeva 6-2 6-3.

    Second seed Zhang Shuai is out though after falling to another Belgian in Maryna Zanevska 6-2 6-0.

    Fifth seed Anastasia Potapova will face Zanevska next after her 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Clara Burel, while seventh seed Danka Kovinic is also through after beating Anna Bondar 4-6 6-2 6-3.

    At the Thailand Open, top seed Bianca Andreescu had no problems against Anastasia Zakharova, easing through to the quarter-finals 6-2 7-5.

    The Canadian will face Marta Kostyuk next after the Ukrainian fifth seed defeated Nao Hibino 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

    Sixth seed Tatjana Maria also progressed 6-0 6-4 against Dayana Yastremska, as did Heather Watson as she fought hard to see off Han Na-lae 6-3 5-7 6-4.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.