Naomi Osaka is now a grand slam champion for the first time but her stunning performance in the 6-2 6-4 win was overshadowed by the controversy that began with Serena Williams being called for coaching. The six-time US Open champion felt aggrieved at a coaching call, setting in motion further punishments for racquet and umpire abuse later on in the match.
Osaka brought it from the beginning, showing high intensity on return. Under that threat, Serena hit a wild double fault long to give the 20 year-old the break, which she would go on to add to later on in the set. Big serving and some poor returning from an error-prone Serena would allow the set to be served out in fairly routine fashion with Osaka showing no sign of nerves against her idol.
Osaka was in the process of securing another hold at the start of the second set when Carlos Ramos called Serena for coaching after spotting Patrick Mouratoglou gesturing in the stands. Serena revisited the issue at change of ends before taking the next two games to secure a break lead. That felt like the turning point but her serving struggles returned once again with two double faults to give Osaka the break back. A broken racquet led to a point penalty and after she was broken once more, she would once more go back to Ramos – who felt he had no choice but to issue a verbal abuse violation and a game penalty.
Osaka could well have easily be thrown off her game by the events throughout the second set but showed nerves of steel to maintain her level. Serving for her first grand slam in what was beginning to become a hostile atmosphere, she could have easily buckled under the pressure. She did not and served out to 30, becoming the first Japanese singles winner at a grand slam and denying Serena Williams her 24th slam once again.
“I feel like she was really, really consistent. I think her game is always super consistent. I felt like she played really well. Like I said, she made a lot of shots. She was so focused. I think, you know, whenever I had a break point, she came up with some great serve. Honestly, there’s a lot I can learn from her from this match.” Serena said of the champion.
For Osaka, the enormity of her achievement has yet to sink in. “It doesn’t really feel that real right now. I think maybe in a few days I’ll realize what I’ve done. Right now it just feels, like, I don’t know. Aside from the fact there’s a lot of press in this room, it feels just like another tournament.”