Osaka claims 4th Slam trophy by beating Brady in Australia

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Japan's Naomi Osaka holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup defeating United States Jennifer Brady in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

MELBOURNE – The trouble for Naomi Osaka at Grand Slam tournaments comes in Week 1. Get beyond that stage 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, semifinals and finals at the majors.

“She played really well when she had to,” Brady said. “She hit good shots when she needed them.”

Osaka, t he 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.

“Tonight it wasn’t meant to be,” Brady said after participating in her first Grand Slam final at age 25. “Hopefully there’s many more.”

The 23-year-old Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, and moved to the United States with her family when she was 3.

She was seeded No. 3 at Melbourne Park and is now assured of moving up to No. 2.