Osaka beats Azarenka to win US Open and third Grand Slam

Osaka beats Azarenka to win US Open and third Grand Slam

Sunday, September 13, 2020

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New York, United States (AFP) — 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.

“I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in under an hour so I just have to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude,” said Osaka, explaining the turnaround.

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.

“I always see everyone sort of collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely,” Osaka said.

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 honouring victims of racial injustice and police brutality in each round of the tournament.

The 2019 Australian Open champion also donned face coverings bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile.


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