Naomi Osaka has become the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam singles title defeating Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4. The gloss has been taken off her win after a coaching controversy and the events that followed.
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Photo: NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women’s Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
The problems started when Williams received a code violation for receiving coaching, something that her coach Patrick Mouratoglou admitted to doing after the match.
During the post match press conference Williams was asked about the coaching incident. She responded by saying, “So, I don’t know. I literally just heard that, too, when they prepped me to come in. I just texted Patrick, like, What is he talking about? Because we don’t have signals. We have never discussed signals. I don’t even call for on-court coaching.
I’m trying to figure out why he would say that. I don’t understand — I mean, maybe he said, You can do it.
I was on the far other end, so I’m not sure. I want to clarify myself what he’s talking about.”
Mouratoglou was seen by umpire Carlos Ramos giving hand signals which suggested coming to the net more. That resulted in a warning. After receiving the warning Williams demanded an apology from the umpire insisting she is not a cheat and would rather lose than need to cheat.
Next Williams had broken serve, something that had not happened to Osaka since the fourth round against Aryna Sabalenka when she was broken three times. In the semifinal, she saved 13 from 13 break points against Madison Keys and three from three in the quarterfinal against Lesia Tsurenko.
In the game that followed Williams gave up two double faults and was broken. In a moment of frustration, Serena smashed her racquet. That resulted in another code violation and a point penalty.
As Osaka stepped up to serve the umpire announced the score as 15-0 from the penalty. On hearing that Williams went to Carlos Ramos and tells him: “Every time I play here, I have problems. I did not have coaching, I don’t cheat. You need to make an announcement. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right. You owe me an apology.”
Even more was to come. During the change of ends Williams said “For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. You will never be on a court with me as long as you live. You are the liar. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry.
“How dare you insinuate that I was cheating? You stole a point from me. You’re a thief too. ”
That resulted in another code violation, the third of the match and a game penalty. The scenes were now chaotic and the crowd reacted in support of Serena and boos rained down for Ramos.
Williams after being penalised a game then served and won her game to take the score to 4-5. Now Osaka was serving for her first Grand Slam title. Being so young she could have easily lost focus, but with the crowd against her Osaka served out the match and became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.
In the first set it was Osaka that broke Williams two times while she fought off two break points. In the second game, Osaka was down 0-30 but fought back.
In the next game the first break came after Williams double-faulted at 30-40. Serena was broken in her next service game after hitting into the net. Osaka was out to a 4-1 lead. Williams was able to hold before Osaka served out the set.
Speaking after the match Osaka said she was not aware of what was going on between the umpire and Williams, she was just staying focused on what she needed to do to play at her best.
Unfortunately, the gloss has been taken from Osaka’s win, but you have to give her credit for doing all she could do to win, and win she did. Despite the controversy, Osaka is now always the 2018 US Open women’s champion.
Osaka spoke about Williams’ woes at the post-match press conference. “Well, I mean, the crowd was really noisy, so I really didn’t hear. Like, I really didn’t hear anything that was going on.
And when I turned around, uhm, it was 5-3, so I was a little bit confused then. But for me, I felt like I really had to focus during this match because she’s such a great champion, and I know that she can come back from any point.
I was just trying to focus on myself at that time”, she said.
Despite showing little emotion after her win Osaka got a bit emotional in the press conference when she was talking about how she reacted at the end of the match. “Okay, because I know that, like, she really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam, right? Everyone knows this. It’s on the commercials, it’s everywhere. Like, when I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I’m not a Serena fan. I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player.
But then when I hugged her at the net (tearing up)…
Anyway, when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again.” she said fighting back the tears.
Osaka also spoke about how important it was to get the break back straight away in the second set. ” I think when she broke me, I think trying to get the break back was, for me, the most important thing, when I had to concentrate the most.
I think if she broke me and then she held, then the crowd would definitely be, like, super for her, and she would get very pumped up, which is kind of dangerous. I thought it was really important to break back.”
Below are videos from the press conferences and a highlight video.
Naomi Osake Captures First Grand Slam Title at 2018 US Open
2018 US Open Press Conference: Naomi Osaka
2018 US Open Press Conference: Serena Williams
Naomi Osaka’s coach, Sascha Bajin said he had not been coaching during the final, and praised Osaka’s performance.
“It was beautiful, to see how composed she stayed during this whole match, how she didn’t drop her level of play,” he said. “And yeah, kind of stayed calm, the whole crowd going against her. Then the delays with whatever happened on court, she knew what she had to do.”