Japan’s Naomi Osaka cemented her place as the outstanding star of the women’s game by beating American Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final to win her fourth Grand Slam title.
Osaka, 23, is unbeaten in major finals after a 6-4 6-3 win in Melbourne.
The third seed seized control from that point, racing 4-0 ahead in the second set before sealing a deserved victory.
Osaka has now won two Australian Open titles after also triumphing at Melbourne Park in 2019, with her other Grand Slam successes coming at the US Open in 2018 and 2020.
She has not suffered a defeat since February 2020 after victory over Brady was her 21st successive match win.
Osaka’s face lit up with a wide grin, raising her racquet above her head, when she clinched the title on her first match point after Brady looped a return long.
Around 7,500 fans were allowed to watch the final on Rod Laver Arena and Osaka lapped up the acclaim after her US Open victory came behind closed doors.
“It feels incredible to have fans, I played the last Grand Slam without fans, to have this energy means a lot,” said Osaka as she clutched the Daphne Akhurst Trophy.
“I feel like playing a Grand Slam is a privilege.”
Osaka is the first women’s player to win her first four Grand Slam finals since Monica Seles in 1991.
Softly-spoken Osaka has emerged as the sport’s biggest star in recent times and illustrated that yet again with another Grand Slam victory.
On the court, her clean hitting and clear thinking has proved too much for her opponents to handle.
Off the court, she has grown into one of the world’s most marketable athletes and found her voice to become a prominent social activist.
“She is such a great champion,” said former British number one Laura Robson, an analyst on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“In the last six months she has found a purpose off the court but anything she does there never affects her on the court. That is the key.”
Osaka was the clear favourite in the final at Melbourne Park, although a relatively serene path to the final also featured moments where she showed her fight and spirit.
In the fourth round against 2020 runner-up Garbine Muguruza, Osaka had to see off two match points before going on to win, as well as coming through some tricky moments against 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in the semi-finals.
While her level against Brady was not always at its highest, she still had enough quality in the key moments.