Japan’s Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and win the US Open yesterday, clinching her third Grand Slam title.
Osaka, the fourth seed, overcame her unseeded opponent 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one-four, 53 minutes inside a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.
It brought 22-year-old Osaka’s haul of tennis major trophies to three after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.
Azarenka, 31, sprinted to the first set in just 26 minutes, dominating Osaka with an 88 per cent success rate on her first serve.The Japanese was uncharacteristically sloppy, hitting a whopping 13 unforced errors.
Azarenka then went 2-0 ahead in the second set before Osaka fought back to break her opponent’s serve twice and take a 4-3 lead. The momentum had quickly swung in Osaka’s favour and she broke a third time to take the match to a deciding set.
Osaka enjoyed the first breakthrough of set three in game four when she broke Azarenka’s serve to take a 3-1 lead.
Azarenka then blew a golden opportunity to get back into the match, wasting three break points as Osaka recovered from 0-40 to hold for a 4-1 lead. Azarenka then saved four break points to make it 4-2 as she battled to keep the contest alive.
When she broke Osaka in game seven, the set was back on serve. But Osaka immediately broke back after Azarenka pushed a forehand wide to leave herself the opportunity of serving for the match. On Osaka’s second championship point, Azarenka found the net.
After touching racquets with her opponent, Osaka lay down in the middle of the court and looked up at the sky in celebration.
Osaka had walked onto the court wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was shot dead by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.
Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, wore different masks honoring victims of racial injustice and police brutality in each round of the tournament.