MELBOURNE, Australia — The trouble for Naomi Osaka at Grand Slam tournaments comes in Week 1. Get beyond that at the hard-court majors, though, and start preparing to etch her name on the trophy.
Osaka won her fourth title in her past eight appearances at a Slam, emerging from what initially was a tight Australian Open final and pulling away by grabbing six consecutive games to beat Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday.
With strong serving that produced six aces, Osaka improved to 4-0 in major finals, the first woman to start her career that way since Monica Seles did it 30 years ago. For Osaka, that is part of a 12-0 record so far in the quarterfinals and beyond at the majors.
The 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year is also on a 21-match winning streak that dates to last season. That includes a championship at last year's U.S. Open. She also won the U.S. Open in 2018, and the Australian Open in 2019.
Only two active women own more Slam titles than Osaka: Serena Williams, with 23, and her sister, Venus, with seven.
The 23-year-old Osaka was born in Japan and moved to the United States with her family when she was 3.
Brady is a 25-year-old American who was playing in her first Grand Slam final. She had to go through a hard quarantine for 15 days when she arrived in Australia in January because someone on her flight tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived.
This was a big step up in competition during this tournament for Brady, who had not faced anyone ranked in the Top 25 nor anyone who previously appeared in so much as one Grand Slam semifinal.
“Tonight it wasn’t meant to be,” Brady said. “Hopefully there’s many more.”
During the pre-match coin toss, the silver women's trophy stood on a clear, plastic pedestal not far from Osaka on her side of the net. After beating Serena Williams in the semifinals, Osaka had made her intentions clear: "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."
And she keeps making sure that name is hers.