Japan’s Naomi Osaka has defeated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in a compelling US Open final and claimed her third Grand Slam title.
The 22-year-old fourth seed Naomi Osaka won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 for her second US Open title.
Naomi Osaka was overwhelmed in the first set and was in danger of trailing 3-0 in the second before recovering to win 10 of the next 11 games to take momentum.
Victoria Azarenka, 31, playing in her first major final since 2013, lost serve for 5-3 in the decider.
The Japanese shrieked with joy as she took her second match point, then calmly laid out on the court and stared at the New York sky as she contemplated her latest achievement.
Naomi Osaka’s level raised considerably as Victoria Azarenka was unable to maintain the intensity she showed in a one-sided opening set.
The fight back ensured Naomi Osaka, who won the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open, maintained her record of winning every Grand Slam final she has played in.
Her maiden victory at Flushing Meadows in 2018 came in straight sets against Serena Williams in a hostile environment following the American’s infamous argument with umpire Carlos Ramos.
This second success could not have been more different.
This year, Naomi Osaka had to fight back from a set down against an inspired Victoria Azarenka – and navigate a tricky decider which could have swung either way – on a virtually empty Arthur Ashe Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Naomi Osaka looked a little lost as Victoria Azarenka overwhelmed her in a fast start, hitting 13 unforced errors and struggling to cope with the Belarusian’s proactive play and controlled aggression.
Eventually, though, the mental resilience which the Japanese says she has developed over recent months came to the fore.
That resulted in a major momentum shift in Naomi Osaka’s favor as Victoria Azarenka threatened to move 3-0 ahead in the second set.
The former world No 1 maintained that level in the decider to earn a 4-1 lead, but was unable to convert one of three break points to move 5-1 ahead.
That might have proved costly when Victoria Azarenka immediately put the set back on serve, only for Naomi Osaka to battle back again by winning what proved to be the final two games.