Naomi Osaka overcame nerves and a spirited challenge from double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to claim the Australian Open title with a 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4 win on Saturday.
It was a second successive Grand Slam title for the Japanese, after her US Open triumph in September, and she became the first Asian player to claim the world No 1 ranking.
Osaka took the first set on a tiebreak after both players had exhibited their entire array of shots in a high-quality opening to the match.
Kvitova broke early in the second set to go up 2-0 but a doublefault from the Czech gave Osaka a second breakpoint opportunity, which she converted to get back on serve.
However a teary-eyed Osaka could not stop Kvitova’s fightback as the 28-year-old Czech won four straight games to win the set and level the match at 1-1, after the Japanese served her fourth double fault.
A break in the third game of the decider, however, proved enough for Osaka, who fell to her knees as Kvitova’s forehand went wide to hand her the title after a superb final that lasted two hours and 27 minutes.
The 21-year-old Osaka became the youngest women’s world No 1 since Dane Caroline Wozniacki, who was 20 when she topped the rankings in 2010.