Naomi Osaka defeats Jennifer Brady to win Australian Open women's title

Naomi Osaka came into the Australian Open as the No. 3-ranked women's singles player in the world. She'll leave the event looking to reclaim the No. 1 spot.

Osaka looked like the best women's singles player in the world throughout the Australian Open. After toppling Serena Williams in the semifinals, Osaka looked poised to take home her fourth Grand Slam title.

She didn't disappoint Saturday, defeating Jennifer Brady in straight sets — 6-4, 6-3 — to win the 2021 Australian Open.

Osaka rolls after tough first set

Osaka opened the match with a service win at love, but the rest of the first set would be anything but easy.

After breaking Brady to take a 3-1 lead, Brady broke right back — helped by a double fault by Osaka at deuce — to get the first set back on serve. Osaka led 5-4 and trailed 15-40, but was able to rally to break Brady’s serve and win the first set.

Osaka wasted no time taking control in the second set, breaking Brady twice to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Brady was able to break Osaka to cut the lead to 4-1, then held to make it 4-2. Both players held to make it 5-3 before Osaka closed the match the way she opened it — winning a service game at love.

"I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she's doing for the game," Brady said of Osaka after the match.

Osaka also had high praise for Brady.

“I told everyone that would listen that you're gonna be a problem, and I was right,” Osaka said to Brady. “I think we’re going to play a lot more matches.”

Osaka also thanked the fans in attendance.

“It feels really incredible for me," Osaka said. "Just to have this energy means a lot.”

Osaka came into the contest as the favorite. During her finals run, she defeated Williams — who has won the event seven times — and Garbiñe Muguruza — who was the runner-up at the Australian Open last year.

For Brady — who came into the event as the 24th ranked women's singles player — the 2021 Australian Open marked the first time she reached a finals match in a Grand Slam. While Brady was considered the underdog, she wasn't expected to be a pushover. Brady and Osaka met in the semifinals of the 2020 US Open, where Brady lost a hard-fought match to Osaka 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3. Osaka went on to win that event.

What's next for Naomi Osaka?

With the win, Osaka has once again asserted herself as the future of women's tennis. She's now won four Grand Slam titles at just 23. She still has a way to go to catch Margaret Court — who holds the record with 24 Grand Slam titles — or Williams — who sits at 23 Grand Slam wins, but Osaka has established herself as a perennial threat to win any event. That was the case before the 2021 Australian Open, but Osaka furthered that point with another win.

Since January 2019, Osaka and Ashleigh Barty have alternated as the No. 1-ranked women's singles players in the sport. Barty held that rank coming into the Australian Open but suffered a loss in the quarterfinals to Karolina Muchova.

With her win at the 2021 Australian Open on Saturday, Osaka could be set to reclaim the No. 1 ranking for the third time in her career.

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