What Naomi Osaka achieved by winning the 2019 Australian Open

What Naomi Osaka achieved by winning the 2019 Australian Open

The new world No. 1 accomplished more than you'd think by winning the title in Melbourne.

It wasn’t easy by any means—she was pushed to three sets in four of her seven matches, including a riveting 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 victory over Petra Kvitova in the final—but Naomi Osaka survived it all to win the 2019 Australian Open. Here’s everything the Japanese star achieved in Australia this year:

She won the second Grand Slam title of her career. Osaka beat childhood idol Serena Williams to win her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open, becoming the first Japanese player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title. And now she has earned her second Grand Slam title right after the first.

She’s now world No. 1. Eleven women went into the Australian Open with a shot at the No. 1 ranking, but by winning the title it was Osaka who clinched it, jumping from No. 4 all the way to the top spot.

She’s the first Asian player, male or female, to reach No. 1 in singles. The previous-highest-ranked Japanese players were Kimiko Date (who reached No. 4 in the WTA rankings) and Kei Nishikori (who reached No. 4 in the ATP rankings), and the previous-highest-ranked Asian player had been Li Na, a two-time Grand Slam champion like Osaka (who peaked at No. 2 in the WTA rankings).

Li was actually on hand at the trophy presentation and gave Osaka her trophy.

“I didn’t expect to see her there,” Osaka said. “At first I was very shocked. I wanted to cry a little bit, but I didn’t want to cry on this podium. I was really touched. I just felt really honored that she was giving me this trophy."

She’s the first woman to win her first two Grand Slam titles at back-to-back Grand Slams since 2001. The last woman to win her first Grand Slam title and then win her second at the next Grand Slam was Jennifer Capriati (who won her first two at the Australian Open and French Open in 2001).

“I just focus on tennis. When I play my match, everything else is completely not in my mind anymore,” Osaka said when asked about backing up her first Grand Slam title so soon. “For me, Grand Slams are something you dream about playing as a kid, and I don’t ever want to waste this opportunity.”

She surpassed $10 million in career prize money. The 21-year-old, who’s the first Japanese woman in tennis history to pass $10 million in career prize money, already has $10,733,311.

She’s now 28-1 at Grand Slams after winning the first set. Osaka’s only loss from a set up at a Grand Slam came against Simona Halep in the third round of the 2016 French Open, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

She’s now won 60 matches in a row after winning the first set. Osaka hasn’t lost a match after winning the opening set since all the way back in 2016—she fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals of a small hard-court tournament in Tianjin, China in a third-set tiebreaker, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).

She’s now on a 14-match Grand Slam winning streak. Seven to win the US Open and seven to win the Australian Open—can she keep the streak going at Roland Garros this year?


This Week on Tennis Channel Plus:

WTA St. Petersburg: Starting Monday, Jan. 28 at 5 a.m. ET, catch live coverage of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy featuring Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova.

WTA Hua Hin: Top seed Garbine Muguruza headlines the field from Hua Hin. Watch every match of the Thailand Open, starting Monday, Jan. 28 at 3 a.m. ET.