Naomi Osaka created history at the 2018 US Open when she became the first-ever Japanese winner of a Grand Slam tournament. She is also one of the youngest-ever Grand Slam victors at the age of twenty and has an extremely bright future in the game.

Savvy tennis followers have been predicting big things for Osaka over the past 12 months and after beating her childhood hero Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 at Flushing Meadows, she has been catapulted into the spotlight.

As a result of her success in New York, she's already been installed in the top five of the betting for the 2019 Australian Open.

It is likely that Osaka will continue her rise up the rankings over the next couple of years. She is one of a number of young Grand Slam winners who have graced the court and made an instant impact.

Today, we take a look at some of the most memorable victors who burst onto the scene whilst displaying plenty of youthful exuberance.

 

Who Is The Youngest Ever Grand Slam Winner?

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s to become the youngest-ever winner of a Grand Slam in the Open Era. She made her debut on the WTA tour at the age of 14 and it wasn't long before the Swiss player was making a name for herself.

She quickly sent records tumbling and became the youngest-ever world number one and the youngest-ever Grand Slam champion when teaming up with Helena Sukova to clinch the 1996 Wimbledon doubles title.

It wasn't long until a singles title followed and at the age of 16 years and 177 days, Hingis came out on top at the 1997 Australian Open. She'd also previously been victorious in the warm-up event.

She beat Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-2 in Melbourne and continued her successful 12 months by capturing the Wimbledon and US Open titles later that year.

Unfortunately, Hingis' promising career was curtailed by ligament injuries and after wrapping up the Australian Open for the third successive year in 1999, she failed to secure another singles Grand Slam title.

 

Other Notable Youthful Grand Slam Winners

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova was just 17 years and 75 days old when she burst onto the scene and secured an unexpected Wimbledon title in 2004.

The Russian eased through the early rounds of the tournament before shocking Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals and booking her place in the SW19 final alongside defending champion Serena Williams.

Despite the odds being stacked against the teenager, she somehow managed to defy all expectations and beat the American in straight sets.

She later added an Australian Open title and two French Open successes to her collection, but failed to repeat her heroics on the grass courts.

Sharapova reached the final for the second time in 2011 but was defeated by Petra Kvitova. Sharapova is still competing on the WTA circuit and is 25/1 to be victorious at Wimbledon 2019.

 

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal, known as the 'King of Clay', first burst onto the scene in 2005 during his inaugural appearance at the French Open.

The second slam of the year has been particularly kind to the Spaniard, with 11 triumphs at Roland Garros, including his latest success in 2018.

During his first trip to the French capital, he cruised past Mariano Puerta at the age of 19 years and three days to become the first player since Mats Wilander to wrap up a Grand Slam title at the first time of asking.

Nadal rarely puts a foot wrong at this venue and boasts a win percentage of over 95% at the French Open. As a result, he begins each tournament as the favourite and is currently available at EVENS to make it three on the bounce in 2019.

 

Michael Chang

Michael Chang was just 17 years and 110 days old when he secured his one and only Grand Slam title. The American was a runner-up on three different occasions, but he was never able to replicate his early-career success.

His victory over Stefan Edberg helped him become the youngest-ever male player to win a Grand Slam. The Roland Garros showpiece was a thriller, with the teenager eventually emerging as the 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 winner after it went the full distance.

He became the first American to prevail at the tournament since 1955 and just four months later, he managed to break into the top five.

 

Monica Seles

Monica Seles is regarded as one of the most successful female tennis players of all time, with her first Grand Slam win coming at the tender age of 16 in the 1990 French Open.

The left-hander beat Steffi Graf at Roland Garros and their fierce and well-documented rivalry continued throughout the 1990s.

Following her successful debut in France, the Yugoslavia-born player went on to secure seven of the next nine Grand Slam titles, but her upward curve was halted by an on-court incident which saw her stabbed in the back.

Following a full recovery, she returned to the tour but wasn't able to recapture her earlier form.

 

Who Are The Oldest Grand Slam Winners?

Ken Rosewall

Ken Rosewall is generally considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and the stylish back-hander broke many records during his illustrious career.

The Australian became the oldest player to clinch a Grand Slam title in 1972 when securing the Australian Open for the fourth time.

Admittedly, it was a depleted field with many big-hitters having been forced to withdraw from the tournament, but Rosewall was able to capitalise, a whole 19 years after wrapping up his first title down under.

At the age of 37, it was unsurprisingly Rosewall's last Grand Slam success, although he did reach both the Wimbledon and US Open finals 12 months later.

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer is one of the most iconic tennis players of the modern era and despite his advancing years, he is still able to glide around the court with plenty of grace and style.

At the age of 36, the Swiss maestro was able to secure the Australian Open title for the sixth time. It was his second successive triumph in Melbourne, ending any rumours of an imminent retirement from the game.

Since turning 35 in 2016, Federer has clinched three Grand Slam titles, bringing his total to 20.

He has already been priced up as third-favourite for the 2019 Australian Open and will break Ken Rosewall's long-standing record if he is able to land his 21st Grand Slam next year.

Tennis can be an unpredictable sport at times and although the likes of Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and the aforementioned Roger Federer have dominated the game for the last couple of decades, it is still capable of throwing up a few surprises.

Young players rarely have anything to lose when they enter a Grand Slam and that lack of pressure and expectation can often help propel them to success.

Naomi Osaka is far from the youngest-ever Grand Slam winner but she is continuing the long-standing trend of outsiders springing a surprise in the final.

The US Open is the tournament most likely to throw up an unexpected result and we can expect plenty more up-and-coming teenagers to make an immediate impact and announce themselves on the biggest stage.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

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