Naomi Osaka arguably saved her best tennis for the Australian Open final. She need only 1 hour and 17 minutes to take out Jennifer Brady and add a fourth major title to her resume.
By all accounts, Osaka dominated. She broke Brady four times in the 6-4, 6-3 win. Afterward, Pam Shriver, a 21-time singles winner on tour and current ESPN analyst, offered her perspective:
What did Osaka’s latest run reveal about a player who was already largely dominating?
Nobody is better than Naomi on hardcourts right now. She has showed that at majors, winning four of the past six events. Now she needs to, and probably will, start taking home titles across the board and hopefully on other surfaces more consistently. She’s a player who rises to the big occasion, and I think she’s finally learned that she can do this when she's dialed in. Winning brings confidence, and we saw an incredibly confident player these past two weeks.
What improvements does she need to make on clay and grass courts?
First, she needs to play a good amount of events on clay. Whether Charleston and a couple of the 1000-level tournaments in Madrid and Rome. Get her timing down. On grass, it can be tricky. First off, we don’t really know how comfortable she is, and the fact of the matter is Naomi, like the rest of the players, won’t have touched this surface for two years because of the stoppage. But if she can play one grass-court WTA event leading into Wimbledon and get her footing, she is obviously going to be a threat. Once you get used to the movement on grass, it’s a lot like playing a fast hardcourt. You can serve out wide and create quick points.
A message from your @AustralianOpen champion, @naomiosaka 🤩👋#AO2021 pic.twitter.com/AJ9i7sveY8— wta (@WTA) February 20, 2021
How has her mental approach helped her?
There’s so much to like about her game, but the mental side was so apparent. Immeasurable. She came back from match point down against Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open. She’s only the 13th player in the Open era to do that.
The first match I ever called of Osaka’s was a third-rounder against Madison Keys at the 2016 US Open. Osaka was up 5-1 in the third and lost the match. I wondered at the time how she would recover from that. But I believe she used that match as a learning tool on how to persevere. Now she doesn’t think about second place. Her game has grown by leaps and bounds, but so has her mental side. She’s just so appealing, whether it’s my 15-year-old daughter or 20-year-olds, Naomi is so important to the younger generation of fans. And that could bring pressure, but Naomi does not show it.
How can she sustain this level of dominance?
Look, it's unlikely anyone will ever dominate like Serena. Justine Henin went on an incredible run in the mid-2000s. Since then, the WTA has seen many great players and the depth is incredible, which makes it difficult for one player to excel in that respect. So it only speaks to Naomi’s game and greatness that she can keep winning. She could be one of the greatest of all time if she stays healthy, and especially if she starts winning consistently on other surfaces.
Best of the Australian Open final
- Osaka enters exclusive territory
- Brady leaves Melbourne with head held high
- Photos: Winning the Australian Open from match point down
- Reaction: World reacts to Osaka's latest title
- Australian Open final in pictures
- Barbora Krejcikova and Rajeev Ram win mixed doubles title
By the numbers
- 73: Percentage of points Osaka won off her first serve.
- 21: Osaka's win streak, the longest since Serena Williams in 2014-15 (27).
- 12: Osaka's wins in the quarterfinals or later of majors against no losses.
- 4: Number of wins for Osaka in Grand Slam finals against no losses. Only Monica Seles started off her career with a longer unbeaten streak (6).
- 4: Number of breaks Osaka had against Brady in the final.
- 2: Osaka's new ranking as of Monday.
- 2: Number of match points Osaka saved in in the fourth round against Garbine Muguruza, becoming only the eighth time a player has won the Aussie Open after saving match points during the event.