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Naomi Osaka wins Australian Open; Asia's first world No. 1

By
Alex Butler
Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during the presentation of the winner's trophy after defeating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the women's singles final January 26, 2019, at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne. File Photo by Julian Smith/EPA-EFE
Naomi Osaka of Japan reacts during the presentation of the winner's trophy after defeating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the women's singles final January 26, 2019, at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne. File Photo by Julian Smith/EPA-EFE

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Naomi Osaka beat Petra Kvitova for her second consecutive Grand Slam title on Saturday at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

She became Asia's first world No. 1 ranked player with the 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 victory over Petra Kvitova. The match lasted 2:27 at Rod Laver Arena.

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The 21-year-old went up 1-0 in the first set and had to hold off her Czech counterpart after a 6-6 tie break in the set. Kvitova came back strong in the second set, going up 2-0 before Osaka jumped up 4-2. Osaka held a 5-3 lead in the set before Pvitova won the next four points to take the set.

"I just felt like I didn't want to have any regrets," Osaka told reporters. "I think that if I didn't regroup after the second set, I would have looked back on this match and probably cried or something."

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Osaka regrouped in a big way. She fell down 1-0 in the first set before winning the next three points. Pvitova climbed back in with a 104 mph ace to make it 3-2, but Osaka was able to hold her off down the stretch to win her second career Grand Slam.

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No. 1 Novak Djokovic battles No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the men's final at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday in Melbourne.

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"For me it hasn't really sunk in," Osaka said of being No. 1. "Maybe in the next tournament that I play, if I see the No. 1 next to my name, I'll feel something. But for now, I'm more happy that I won this trophy."

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