Naomi Osaka fell to the ground after winning her second US Open title on Saturday afternoon at Flushing Meadows. But earlier, the 22-year-old had played her heart out to bounce back from a set and break to defeat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 53 minutes.
Osaka’s win capped off her fortnight of purpose in which she showed commitment to societal problems outside of the courts as focused as she was about her game, during her matches. At the beginning of the match, Azarenka was the one doing and controlling the shot-making.
The Belarusian pocketed the opening set in what seemed no time at the loss of just the one game and even moved up a break in the second, with her confidence riding high. From that moment, however, it was Osaka who came into her own and who retained her hold over the match right up to taking it to its conclusion.
It was almost déjà vu to see Azarenka’s game come apart in a similar manner to how she had flipped the match around in her semi-final against Serena Williams, rallying from losing the opening set 1-6 herself.
In the deciding set, Azarenka did break back to bring the set back on serve but it was all she could do as Osaka upped the ante for one last time that saw her through the match.
US Open: Naomi Osaka's 3-0 record in Major finals
In her post-match press conference, Osaka said, “I think in the first set, I was so nervous, I wasn't moving my feet.
I felt like I was not playing—not that I expect myself to play 100 per cent, but it would be nice if I could even play, like, 70 per cent. I just felt like I was too much in my own head. Then in the second set, of course I was down early, which really didn't help me out.
I just thought to myself to be positive, don't lose 6-1, 6-0, hopefully give her a slight run for her money. I just sort of ran with that line of thinking. I would say a really important game was definitely the game that I broke her in the third set.
I'm glad that I did it earlier on because I felt like, later down the line, it would have gotten really tight for me”. This is Naomi Osaka’s third career Major, making her the most successful Asian women’s player at the Majors – surpassing Li Na’s tally of two Majors. The win will also see her re-enter the top-3 when the rankings are updated on Monday, in the third place.