NEW YORK, USA. – Japan’s Naomi Osaka, 22, expanded her impressive Grand Slam record with the second-time conquest of the US Open, by prevailing on a Saturday in a grand final game to Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3 and 6-3, in the first major tournament in pandemic times.
The Japanese started succumbing without mitigation in the first set, but won the remaining two not because her opponent lowered her good level of play but because she climbed into hers relentlessly.
The new champion is the fifth Open Era player to win her first three Grand Slam finals, after Virginia Wade, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
Osaka, 22, who was barely able to win 1 game in the first set after making 13 un forced errors for five winning hits, compared to Azarenka’s 3 and 7, respectively, regained her best tennis from the second with a devastating serve and an intractable remnant.
Osaka regained confidence in her tennis, focused, secured punches from the bottom of the court and again broke the seventh game (4-3) to keep her sleeve and get into the game.
The former world number one remained unstoppable in the third and with her rest again achieved the decisive service break in the fourth game, to go on a 3–1 partial lead, to the key final to win the match played on center court Arthur Ashe.
Although she gave up her serve in seventh for 4-3, she regained it in eighth for 5-3 and in the first match ball secured the victory that was proclaimed by the new ‘queen’ of the US Open for the second time.
The match of the two world-former numbers one and Grand Slam champions, which lasted 1 hour and 53 minutes, left Osaka with six ‘aces’ and two double faults, for 3 and 2, respectively, which Azarenka placed.
Osaka finished with 34 winners against 26 un forced errors, compared to Azarenka’s 30 and 22.
She also managed to take a three million dollar prize and move from ninth to fourth place in the WTA standings.
The new Open champion ties with Germany’s Angelique Kerber in fourth place for active players with more Grand Slam titles.
Only Serena Williams (23), her sister Venus (7) and Belgium’s Kim Clijsters (4) outper get over it.
Azarenka, who was playing her fifth Grand Slam final, the first since 2013 when she lost the Open final to Serena Williams, breaks a streak of 11 consecutive wins since reaching Flushing Meadows.