Naomi Osaka didn’t just put an end to her pattern of third-round finishes at Grand Slams; she obliterated it.
The No. 20 seed has made it to the third round in nine of her 11 career Grand Slam appearances, but prior to her match on Saturday against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, she sported a 1-7 record once she reached the round of 32. But Osaka made sure to reverse the trend with an emphatic double bagel victory against Sasnovich that left a stunned Grandstand crowd in awe.
Osaka, who can sometimes be prone to sprees of unforced errors with her go-for-broke brand of baseline tennis, hit just three unforced errors in 12 games. She ripped winners and near-winners off her returns, dominated points from the start and even showed occasional flashes of brilliant touch. But even for Osaka, that still wasn’t enough.
History would have been made at the U.S. Open women’s final no matter how it ended, but no one could have predicted the chaotic manner in which it played out.
Tears, boos, anger and accusations overshadowed a remarkable victory by Naomi Osaka, who defeated Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-4, on Saturday to become the first Grand Slam singles champion born in Japan.
Osaka, 20, moved to the United States at age 3 and grew up idolizing and emulating Williams, who was seeking a record-tying 24th major singles championship. But in what should have been a moment of uninhibited joy for Osaka, she shed tears of sadness while standing on the podium after the match. The celebration was tarnished by booing from fans upset over what they perceived as unfair treatment of Williams by the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos.
The outcome of the match seemed clear early on, after Osaka won the first set and demonstrated a steely nerve in the face of daunting pressure. But in the second set, the match descended into chaos, all instigated by the slightest of hand gestures.