Naomi Osaka is being hailed as a double-digit major winner in waiting after soaring into rarefied air with her latest Australian Open triumph at Melbourne Park.
The Japanese superstar crushed American Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 in 77 minutes to become the first woman since Monica Seles 30 years ago to win her first four grand slam finals.
All-time majors title leader Margaret Court also accomplished the feat in the early 1960s, as did Roger Federer before going on to rack up a record 20 men’s grand slam singles crowns.
“That’s very amazing company,” Osaka said.
“I hope that I can have, like, one grain of how their career has unfolded.
“But you can only wish and you can only just keep going down your own path. But, yeah, it’s definitely something crazy to hear.”
Ominously for Osaka’s rivals, not even legends Serena and Venus Williams, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert nor Billie-Jean King managed to win their first four major finals.
Osaka’s latest success follows her 2019 Australian Open triumph and 2018 and 2020 US Open title runs in New York.
The Williams sisters are the only other active players with more slams and three-time Open champion Mats Wilander is convinced there’s many more to come after the former world No.1 confirmed her status as Serena’s successor and the new dominator of women’s tennis.
“I think she has 10 grand slams in her, minimum, I really do,” Wilander said on Eurosport.
“She moves really well, she’s so strong and doesn’t look as if she can get hurt very easily.
“She’s very subdued when she wins which means, I think, she wants to win more. Everything speaks for her winning at least 10 majors.
“She says she’s gonna take it in fives. Certainly she’s gonna get to five. I would think she’s up there on 10, 11, 12 minimum.
“She’s the best hardcourt player we’ve had in the women’s game since Serena was at her best.
“She hasn’t lost a grand slam final and hasn’t lost in the second week of a slam so I don’t know if she feels pressure.”
Still only 23, Osaka now holds two of the sport’s four biggest trophies and could conceivably secure a non-calendar-year grand slam if she also wins the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July.
“Definitely for me, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do well in those tournaments,” Osaka said.
“It’s a matter of being comfortable and, hopefully, as I play more matches on those surfaces I’ll get better.”