NEW YORK: After one errant forehand in the first set of the US Open final, Naomi Osaka looked at her coach in the mostly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium stands with palms up, as if to say, “What the heck is happening?”
In response to another wayward forehand against Victoria Azarenka seconds later, Osaka chucked her racket. It spun a bit and rattled against the court.
Surprisingly off-kilter in the early going on Saturday, Osaka kept missing shots and digging herself a deficit. Until, suddenly, she lifted her game, and Azarenka couldn’t sustain her start.
By the end, Osaka pulled away to a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory for her second US Open championship and third Grand Slam title overall which cemented her status as the sport’s leading light both on and off the court.
Azarenka would show her fighting spirit with a break to get back on serve at 3-4 but Osaka would not be denied, immediately breaking back and holding serve to seal victory.