Naomi Osaka recovered after wasting three championship points and reasserted herself down the stretch to win the Australian Open for a second consecutive Grand Slam title, edging Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday night.
The victory allows the 21-year-old Osaka to become the first tennis player from Japan to reach No. 1 in the rankings.
Osaka held three match points in the second set at 5-3, love-40 as Kvitova served. But Osaka couldn’t close it out. Instead, she completely lost her way, dropping 23 of the next 27 points.
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.
Osaka was yelling at herself. She slammed a ball off the court. She tugged at her pink visor’s brim. She headed to the locker room after the second set with a towel draped over her head.