Petra Kvitova ready for ‘on fire’ Naomi Osaka in Australian Open final

Naomi Osaka, left, and Petra Kvitova meet for the first time in the Australian Open final. Picture: AFP
Naomi Osaka, left, and Petra Kvitova meet for the first time in the Australian Open final. Picture: AFP
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Naomi Osaka is aiming to show there is a new serial champion in town in the 
Australian Open final against Petra Kvitova.

The unpredictable nature of the women’s game means the last eight grand slams have all been won by different players.

Should Kvitova triumph, that would become nine but an Osaka win would not just stop the run but see the 21-year-old become a back-to-back champion after her maiden title in New York.

Osaka said: “I love grand slams. This is a place I think is worth all the training. When you’re little, you watch the grand slams, you watch all the players play the legendary matches here. For me, this is the most important tournament. There’s only four of them a year, so of course I want to do the best that I can.”

Unusually, the match will be a first career meeting between Osaka and 28-year-old Kvitova, with the added spice that the winner will also take the world No 1 ranking. Osaka added: “To have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a grand slam is something very amazing.

“I’ve watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is. It’s definitely going to be very tough for me.”

Kvitova said: “I need to play my best tennis. Naomi is on fire. She’s an aggressive player, which I am as well. So I think it will be about who is going to take the first point and push the other a little bit.”

Much has been made of the fact this is 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion Kvitova’s first slam final since a knife attack in 2016 that almost ended her career. She said: “There were moments and days where I didn’t really think very positively that I can be in the final of a grand slam any more. It took me five years to get there. That’s probably the best thing that I proved, that I didn’t give up.”