Osaka stumbles across Azarenka and wins title at US Open

Naomi Osaka also won her third grand final at the US Open. The Japanese winner of the US Open in 2018 – after a tumultuous final match against Serena Williams – and the Australian Open in 2019 ended in a whimsical final with the Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka: 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

A fortnight ago, also in New York, 31-year-old Azarenka won another WTA title for the first time in four years. Osaka was also the opponent in the finals then, but withdrew with a hamstring injury.

This time, the Belarussin seemed to be on her way to win another grand slam tournament for the first time in seven years, but the Australian Open winner of 2012 and 2013 was unable to maintain her high level.

Error on error

Playing with a wrapped up thigh, Osaka was completely knocked off the court in the first set. She served moderately and piled on foul, while with Azarenka almost everything worked out.

The Japanese, however, managed to turn the tide. After a 2-0 deficit she started to play with much more energy. Not only did she barely make any mistakes, but she also hit more and more winners. On top of that, her service yielded a lot more free points.

Osaka initially also ruled in the third set, but Azarenka fought for what she was worth and came back from 1-4 to 3-4. She then returned to her service and saw the fourth-placed Osaka finish the job cold-bloodedly after just under two hours of tennis. For Azarenka it was the third time she lost the final in New York.

Mouth cap

“I used to always look at Azarenka and it was great to play against her in the finals,” said the new titleholder, the first player in 25 years to win the US Open final after losing the first set.

The Japanese went to lie down on the court for a while afterwards. “I always see a lot of players collapsing after their victory. I am always afraid that they will get injured, so I took it easy”

Osaka re-entered the job with a mouthpiece bearing the name of a black victim of police violence. To the question of what the message of this was, she replied in significant terms: A better question is: what have you learned from it?