When asked about her perfect performance in the finals, Naomi Osaka paused for a moment. She just defeated Serena Williams in the Australian Open semi-finals and secured her seat in the fourth game of her career.
She maintained a soft tone, but her message was quiet.
She said: “I have a mentality that people don’t remember the runner-up.” “You can, but the name of the winner is engraved.
“I think I played the hardest in the final. I think that’s what makes you different.”
Osaka is that Saturday.
In the Rod Laver Arena (Rod Laver Arena) in front of a limited but active crowd played Jennifer Brady (Jennifer Brady), the 23-year-old young man in 77 minutes 6-4, 6 The victory of 3 won, and in the middle of the night, she raised her fourth Grand Slam trophy. She and Monica Seles (Monica Seles) are the only women to win the first four major finals in the Open era. Today, she is second only to Serena and Venus Williams. Venus Williams is behind the current players and is tied with the recently returned Kim Clijsters.
“This victory cemented her position as the best player in the world,”
“For a while, people questioned whether she didn’t like the spotlight, whether this would prevent her from becoming the dominant role, but we can put it aside now because it is not the case. We know she likes it. We know she can withstand the pressure. . We know she likes to be the face of women’s tennis, and now she is the face of women’s tennis.
Although Osaka will not rise to the first place due to the pandemic adjustment of the points system, but must be ranked second, but the number in front of her name is only a formality. On Saturday, she undoubtedly stood in the status quo of women’s tennis.
Osaka is an overwhelming favorite to participate in the competition, but she knows that it will not be easy to get rid of Brady, who made the finals for the first time. The two played in the semifinals of the US Open in an unforgettable three-set match in September, in which Osaka stated that she “never needed to fight such a hard physical and mental battle.”
Saturday is more direct.
Before Osaka scored a decisive forehand to win the championship, Brady maintained a break point with 4 shots in the first set. She scored the next two points and never wavered. She won six consecutive games and always maintained control. Osaka has 6 A’s and 16 winners, and it remains stable at the most critical moment.
After the game, Brady said: “She performed very well when necessary.” “She made good shots when needed. At that moment, that was the hardest time to find those shots. You know, it matters. The moment allows you to defend.
“And just to serve like that, you know, she’s also against me in New York. She obviously has confidence in her serve, serve, and play high-risk tennis. So yes, it’s hard to face.”
After Brady’s forehand took a long time to end the game, Osaka put her hand on top of his head, leaned back briefly and smiled, her face was full of joy, but there was no surprise. After exchanging hugs with Brady online, she whirled confidently and comfortably and waved to the crowd, knowing exactly how to play the role of champion. She gave a cordial victory speech, slapped all the correct marks, without the slightest embarrassment, except for asking if Brady wanted to be called “Jennifer” or “Jenny”, and then doing the opposite of her request.
This is completely different from the scene after she won the first two Grand Slam titles at the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open. In that game, few people expected her to win against more experienced opponents.
She said in a post-match press conference: “I won these two trophies for the first time. In a sense, I am just a kid.” “I really don’t know what I am doing. I won the game. , But I didn’t really realize how difficult it was to reach my current position at the moment of the game.”
After major back-to-back victories, Osaka jumped to first place, and Osaka struggled under the pressure of expectations. She broke up with coach Sascha Bajin and lost in the third round of the French Open. A few weeks later, she withdrew from Wimbledon in the shocking first round. She left a lot of people’s tears at the press conference after the game, wondering if it was just too much success and premature pressure.
She did not dispel her doubts because she lost in the fourth round of New York in 2019, or was shocked by 15-year-old Coco Gauff from Melbourne in 2020 to bid farewell to the third round. But after the season suspension in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Osaka reassessed her attitude and priorities. She began to speak out on issues related to her, including systemic racism and police brutality, and went to Minneapolis to protest the death of George Floyd.
When the season restarted in August, Osaka quickly rediscovered his confidence in the stadium while continuing to use his own voice. She won her first three games at the Western and Southern Opens, the leading tournaments of the US Open, and then announced that she would boycott the semifinals, hoping to arouse heated debate about the Jacob Blake shooting in the tennis world. In Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The game was suspended during the match of the day.
Before the start of the U.S. Open a few days later, the city of Osaka wore seven masks before and after the game. Each mask was marked with the name of a person who died as a result of racial injustice or police brutality. In the final, she was able to put on everyone, and she was motivated by the message. She won the game.
She has become a well-known advocate, writing monographs and appearing in magazines, and at the same time receiving a major endorsement.
And she is unbeatable on the tennis court, and she has never lost since the start of the season. Saturday’s final marked her 21-game winning streak.
This is the longest winning streak on the WTA Tour, after Serena Williams won 27 consecutive victories in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Williams has long been a leader in women’s tennis-dominating the court, headlines and sponsorship fees-and has struggled to regain her throne in the three years since returning from childbirth. However, Osaka has quietly emerged from Williams’ long shadow and won the championship. Forbes listed her as the world’s highest paid female athlete in 2020.
Osaka’s defeat of Williams 6-3 and 6-4 in the semifinals may be the final statement on this matter.
After two faltering opening games, Osaka regained his composure and won the next five victories-almost all 23-time Grand Slam champions used their own scripts to turn pages, using big serve and Strong play style. When Williams left the court emotionally, raising questions about her future, it seemed that he had officially surpassed the dominance of the game.
Since Serena Williams won the most recent Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open, there have been 11 different major titles-Osaka and Simona Halep (2) He was the only person who won multiple trophies during that time. People have been talking about the depth of the women’s game and questioning the ability of top players to produce stable results. But Osaka seemed to further differentiate itself on Saturday.
Osaka has a leading 50 aces in the entire two weeks, 15 more than second-placed Serena Williams and 16 more than Brady. She recorded one of the fastest servings with a speed of 122 mph and won the second place in the game with a 79% serve rate.
Osaka has never advanced to the third round at the French Open or Wimbledon. She admits that she is not confident in dirt or grass, but she hopes to maintain her dominance seems more than challenge.
She said on Saturday: “It’s interesting that I no longer take expectations as a burden.” “I feel like I’m working hard now. It’s like, if I haven’t done things before, people won’t expect me to do things if That makes sense. I think no one expected me when I was young. Now that I have been promoted to the team, of course there will be more pressure, but I also think that is motivation, because I also want to Do it better by yourself.”
Faced with a deadly serve and a cold demeanor under pressure-like Williams was in his golden age-Osaka is now a problem her peers can’t solve.