Japan’s Naomi Osaka beat Czech Petra Kvitova in a thrilling Australian Open final to win back-to-back Grand Slams and become the new world number one.
The US Open winner, 21, shed tears after missing three championship points in the second set but regrouped to win 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4.
The fourth seed broke for 2-1 in the decider, then served out the win.
Eighth seed Kvitova, 28, was bidding for her first major title since being stabbed in a knife attack.
Osaka, who replaces Simona Halep at the top of the rankings after the Romanian’s 48-week stint, becomes the first Asian player to be world number one.
She is also the youngest to hold top spot since Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, then aged 20, took the ranking in 2010.
The first set of the final was fiercely competitive as both players just couldn’t break the other’s serve. In the tie break, Osaka got the minibreak and consolidated on it. She raced to a 5-1 lead before winning the tie break 7-6.
This was the first set the Czech international had lost in the past couple of weeks.
Kvitova started strong in the 2nd set and broke Osaka’s serve to take a 2-0 lead. However, the 21-year-old struck back, breaking her opponent’s serve twice and reached a juncture where she was serving for the championship at 5-4. However, Kvitova dug deep to win three games in a row to Osaka seemingly lost her head after the first break to take the 2nd set 7-5.
Osaka who has a superb record in 3-setters (winning 7 of her last 8 matches that went to the 3rd set), took the early lead, breaking Kvitova’s first service game. She raised her game and the south paw just couldn’t find her way back. The Japanese star once again served for the championship at 5-4 and this time she made no mistake. She started off with an ace and saw out the game with ease.