Australian Open 2021 tennis as it happened – Naomi Osaka beats Jennifer Brady in showpiece final
This has been a Grand Slam like no other that witnessed countless moments of drama and excitement over two weeks. In the women's draw it culminated in a straight sets victory for Naomi Osaka over Jennifer Brady.
Jennifer Brady of the United States (L) and Naomi Osaka of Japan.
It’s all over! Osaka is the 2021 Australian Open champion. She serves out to love to clinch her second title here in one hour and 17 minutes. It’s the Japanese star’s fourth Grand Slam trophy and will see her climb to No.2 in the world. Brady battled hard, but will rue that crucial spell at the end of the first set.
It’s an awkward hold, but a hold nonetheless. Brady survives from deuce after a rasping crosscourt return winner from Osaka had threatened to tee her up for a trophy-clinching break. The Japanese will now serve for the title, but at least Brady has posed the question.
OSAKA 6-4 5-2 BRADY
It’s hands on head time for Brady. She can see Osaka is far from serene at this juncture. The Japanese is indecisive with a crosscourt forehand that balloons off the net and lands out to allow Brady back into the game at 40-30. Osaka is rattled but is allowed to wriggle over the line as Brady goes too big on a forehand and not only loses her ascendancy, but it costs her the game too. Osaka is now one away from the title.
OSAKA 6-4 4-2 BRADY
The world number 24 breezes to a love hold. She’s fired up and keen to feed her own belief. How will Osaka respond now?
BREAK! – OSAKA 6-4 4-1 BRADY
Respite! Brady gets on the board and claws a break back. She gets a huge – and quite possibly deserved – slice of luck with a miss-hit that helps her claim a first break point. Osaka saves it but it seems to ignite something within the American. She shows Djokovic-esque elasticity to turn a point in her favour to earn another break opportunity. Osaka goes in for the kill to fend off another but dumps into the net.
BREAK! – OSAKA 6-4 4-0 BRADY
It’s looking bleak for Brady. Osaka has the bit between her teeth and doesn’t look like letting go. The No.22 seed just can’t find her Set 1 rhythm. She’s tried to shrug off that forehand miss, but it’s really shaken her game. Osaka breaks again and is closing in on a fourth Grand Slam title.
OSAKA 6-4 3-0 BRADY
Osaka finds an ace at 40-30 after some shaky serving had threatened to unravel her from 40-0 up. She bellows out another ‘Come on!’ as she consolidates to edge closer down the path to victory.
BREAK! – OSAKA 6-4 2-0 BRADY
Real problems for Brady now. She slaps another tight forehand into the net to leave herself with plenty to do at 0-30. Osaka then produces a sensational crosscourt backhand winner to conjure up two break points. She only needs one as Brady hooks horribly wide of the tramlines to leave herself with a mountain to climb.
OSAKA 6-4 1-0 BRADY
No sign of the frustration creeping into Brady’s game after that first set loss. She heaps on some pressure for 30-30 but Osaka finds a timely wide ace to light a path out of danger.
SET! – OSAKA 6-4 BRADY
That’s a huge shame for Brady. She blows a comfortable lead with a fourth double fault, setting some nerves jangling as she needs to do it all again from deuce. Osaka gets lucky with a miss-hit that drops in, forcing Brady to adjust and fire long. The American then comes close to the net to try and finish a point on the forehand but dumps it into the net. It gifts Osaka the set and will be a tough one for the underdog to take.
OSAKA 5-4 BRADY
Wow, that’s special – but it’s not quite enough. Brady rues a long return off as she attacks a second serve at 0-30. Osaka hits back to make 30-30 but a sensational improvised backhand lob on the run gives Brady a shot at the break. Osaka comes under the cosh but some clutch play from the world number three sees her just about eek out the hold.
OSAKA 4-4 BRADY
Osaka screams ‘Come on!’ as she slaps away an overhead to make 15-15. It seems to have the desired motivational effect as she wrestles the in-game momentum her way to snare a break point. Brady hustles in typically feisty fashion from the baseline to fend it off and then needs to bring her A-game to handle the heat at deuce. It’s a brilliant hold as some hefty serving and a crisp crosscourt backhand help her to square it up once again.
OSAKA 4-3 BRADY
It’s far from a smooth ride for Osaka at the moment but this time she does manage to dig out the hold to 30 and maintain the scoreboard advantage as we enter the business end of the set.
OSAKA 3-3 BRADY
That’s how you back up a break! Brady levels with a confident love hold. The fourth game shocker that could have crushed the underdog seems to have actually settled her.
BREAK! – OSAKA 3-2 BRADY
Brilliant! Brady bites back with a little help from some surprising serving jitters for Osaka. The world number three keeps losing her service toss in the wind and she has a real shocker trying to consolidate. A double fault brings up break back point at deuce and the one true rally of quality fittingly concludes the game in Brady’s favour as she outmanoeuvres the Japanese to respond in style.
BREAK! – OSAKA 3-1 BRADY
Osaka doesn’t have to do much to earn an early breakthrough. Brady is going big on the second serve, but it’s not paying off at present. She coughs up a pair of double faults and again miscues on the backhand as she’s easily broken to love.
OSAKA 2-1 BRADY
It’s a grimace from Brady as she flashes a very make-able crosscourt backhand wide at 0-15. She knows it’s a missed chance, but doesn’t have long to dwell on it as Osaka reels off the next three points to ease in front once more.
OSAKA 1-1 BRADY
It’s an early test for Brady as a 40-0 lead evaporates with some shaky serving playing its part. Osaka pressures the American’s backhand but can’t make any inroads from deuce. It's just the sort of stubborn work the world number 24 needs to keep producing as she keeps cool to get on the board.
OSAKA 1-0 BRADY
Osaka’s hair ruffles in the wind, but it doesn’t affect her. She guns down the big serves, clocking up a couple of aces on her way to a brutal love hold to kick things off.
The players are out on court in front of an excited crowd. Osaka wins the toss and will serve first. Time for the warm up!
View from the baseline(s)
Osaka: “For me, I have this mentality that people don’t remember the runners up. You might, but the winner’s name is the one that’s engraved. I think I fight the hardest in the finals. I think that’s where you sort of set yourself apart. It’s the other person won as many matches as you did. It’s something that I think – I don’t know, it’s like the biggest fight."
Brady: "I can say I can enjoy the moment and just try to play tennis and not really think too much about it, but there’s going to be moments, there’s going to be games, there’s going to be points where I’m going to be thinking about, “Wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title”. Yeah, I will definitely have those thoughts. But it’s more just trying to control the emotions, really.”
Welcome to live coverage of Jennifer Brady and Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final. The former is competing in a first Grand Slam final while the latter will be aiming to add a fourth major singles title to her growing list of honours.
Brady and Osaka faced each other at the semi-final stage of last year’s US Open with the latter edging past her American opponent to go on to win the title at Flushing Meadows.
Osaka leads the head-to-head with Brady 2-1 and the angles she can produce off her racket could be a factor against a player who sometimes struggles with lateral movement. Brady needs to find a way to dictate points and come to the net as often as she can.
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