Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to claim 2019 Australian Open women's final

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-26 23:57:07|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MELBOURNE, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Young Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka has edged out Petra Kvitova in a gripping Australian Open women's final on Saturday, taking the three-set thriller at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-4.

While the victory has helped solidify the 21-year-old as a crowd favorite and as one of the sport's most promising athletes, it was far from easy against the determined eighth-seeded Czech.

With neither player able to break serve, the opening set came down to a tie-break.

Still brimming in confidence from her U.S. Open title success just five months earlier, Osaka looked to hit the ball deep and pressure the two-time Wimbledon champion at the baseline.

As a result, Osaka was able to cramp Kvitova's returns and take the first set.

In the very first game of the second set however, Kvitova broke serve and went two games up.

As the momentum of the match appeared to be shifting, the tournament's fourth seed was able to recompose herself and break the Czech's serve twice.

At 5-3 and 40-0 in the second set, Osaka had the opportunity to serve the match out, but somehow Kvitova managed to survive three championship-points to break back and eventually even the set at 5-5.

Visibly frustrated, Osaka began to lose her discipline and Kvitova then went on to steal the second set.

With the pace on Osaka's powerful forehand shots beginning to wane, it seemed Kvitova was well in control of the match.

However the see-sawing back-and-forth contest would have yet another surprise in store for fans when Osaka got the break in the third.

Now with a second chance to serve the match out, this time the young Japanese star of tennis made no mistakes.

"I felt like I didn't want to have any regrets," Osaka said after the grueling contest. "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."

Presented the tournament trophy by Chinese legend Li Na, Osaka will now also take the world number one ranking from Romania's Simona Halep.

"I didn't expect to see her [Li Na] there," Osaka said. "At first I was very shocked. I wanted to cry a little bit. So, yeah, I was really touched. I just felt really honored that she was giving me this trophy."

But while it was a famous victory for Osaka, it was also a significant moment of triumph for Kvitova too.

At the end of 2016, the now 28-year-old suffered a severe hand injury when a knifeman broke into her home and attacked her.

Lucky to survive the home invasion and forced to receive several surgeries to regain movement in her hand, many feared the physical and psychological damage from the incident would end Kvitova's career.

"It's crazy. I can't really believe that I just played the final of a Grand Slam again," an emotional Kvitova said after the match.

"Thank you [to my team] for sticking with me even if we didn't know if I would be able to hold a racquet again."

"You were there every single day supporting me and staying positive for me, which I really needed. I probably wasn't really easy, so thank you," she added.