So close to victory, Naomi Osaka suddenly was letting the Australian Open final slip away. Three championship points? Gone. A sizable lead? Soon all gone, too. She was playing poorly. She yelled at herself. Slammed a ball. Tugged at her visor's pink brim. Trudged to the locker room between sets with a towel draped over her head. And then, after returning to the court, Osaka turned it all around just as quickly as she had dropped 23 of 27 points, the AP reports. Refocusing and reasserting herself, Osaka edged Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday night to win the Australian Open for a second consecutive Grand Slam title. "I felt like I didn't want to have any regrets," Osaka says. "I think if I didn't regroup after the second set, then I would have looked back on this match and probably cried or something."
On top of that, Osaka will rise to No. 1 in the rankings. "Amazing achievement," two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova says. "Definitely she is a great one. We'll see what the future will bring." Japanese-born Osaka adds the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected in a US Open final last September that forever will be remembered for the way runner-up Serena Williams was docked a game after arguing with the chair umpire. Unlike that day, there was no jeering from the confused crowd. No controversy. No chaos. No sharing the spotlight. Clearly marking herself as tennis' bright new star, Osaka is the first woman to win two major championships in a row since Williams picked up four straight in 2014-15. (See what Osaka said about her high-profile US Open win on Ellen.)