Australian Open 2019: Proud Petra Kvitova rues missed chances in thrilling final

May JohnsonJan 27, 2019

"I had dreams I'd win this tournament", she said.

Japan's Naomi Osaka battled past Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7/2) 5-7 6-4 to win her first Australian Open crown on Saturday and become the new world number one. Osaka survived a nervy implosion in the second set and won the first and third ones with polished brilliance. "I'm proud of myself in that case", she said. Her defensive efforts and movement stymied all of Kvitova's attempts to find rhythm in the decider. After that display of power tennis, a simple, chipper "hello" would need to suffice for the millions of fans watching worldwide.

"To my team, thank you for everything". I don't think that I could really imagine. "I read notes before this but I still forgot the rest of what I was supposed to say".

The victor at Melbourne Park will also move to No. 1 for the first time when the next women's rankings are released. I wanted to win and have the trophy - but I think I already won two years ago.

New York Times tennis expert Ben Rothenberg suggested midway through the match the controversy Osaka had been forced to deal with at Flushing Meadows previous year - when Williams exploded and accused the umpire of bias, ruining Osaka's biggest career achievement to date - had actually hardened her to withstand moments of adversity like she eventually overcame on Rod Laver Arena.

Kvitova will become the new world number two on Monday, capping an incredible and courageous rise after there were genuine doubts whether she would return following the trauma of nearly three years ago. With this win, she has finally put an end to women's tennis' chaotic two seasons since Serena Williams went on maternity leave.

Petra Kvitova remained ice cool throughout the pressure moments in her Australian Open women's final loss to Naomi Osaka and she carried that demeanour through to the post-match press conference where she didn't look or sound like a grand slam runner up.

Kvitova would not surrender, saving three break points before again forcing Osaka to serve it out. After a tense first set filled with missed break opportunities, Osaka began the tiebreak with a punishing serve and a lovely backhand return victor down the line.

Osaka held three match points in the second set at 5-3, love-40 as Kvitova served.

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She then showed her class when she preferred to praise Kvitova rather than bask in the glow of her win.

Kvitova said the pain of losing was secondary to the pride she felt at being back on the biggest stage.

Jones dominated the interview, asking the 21-year-old how she "managed to carry" the trophy to the studio and how she planned to spend her prizemoney. But Osaka is a fighter and some poor serving by Kvitova allowed her to break straight back.

Osaka, naturally, was thrilled by her new status as the WTA's best in the world. Capriati did so at the 2001 Australian and French opens.

That allowed Kvitova to come back and make a match of it, reeling off five games in a row to take the second set and go up 1-0 in the third. But Osaka calmed down. And now, after winning the Australian Open and becoming world number 1, she is a superstar! Li reached a career-high ranking of No.2, which was the previous record for an Asian player.

"I have so much tea right now, but I'm not going to spill it", Osaka said to laughter.

Grand Slam singles titles are the most precious of tennis possessions and not supposed to be captured easily. "She started swinging from the fences". "Not really great ones", the 28-year-old Kvitova said.

However, Osaka was able to regroup just in time.

Her racket, of course, may be the tour's biggest loudspeaker, with the boom of her 192 km/hr serves and winners echoing around center court.

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