Naomi Osaka Tames 'Bad Attitude' to Win US Open

The 22-year-old from Japan beats Victoria Azarenka in a comeback victory
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2020 5:00 PM CDT
Naomi Osaka Tames 'Bad Attitude' to Win US Open
Naomi Osaka, of Japan, right, poses for a photo with Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, after winning the women's singles final of the US Open tennis championships, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After one errant forehand in the first set of the US Open final, Naomi Osaka looked at her coach in the mostly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium stands with palms up, as if to say, "What the heck is happening?" In response to another wayward forehand against Victoria Azarenka seconds later, Osaka chucked her racket. It spun a bit and rattled against the court. Surprisingly off-kilter in the early going Saturday, Osaka kept missing shots and digging herself a deficit. Until, suddenly, she lifted her game, and Azarenka couldn't sustain her start. By the end, Osaka pulled away to a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback victory for her second US Open championship and third Grand Slam title overall, the AP reports.

"For me, I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in an under an hour," said Osaka, who laid down on her back on court after winning. This, then, is what she told herself when things looked bleakest: "I just have to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude." It worked. A quarter-century had passed since a woman who lost the first set of a US Open final wound up winning: In 1994, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario did it against Steffi Graf. This one was a back-and-forth affair. Osaka, a 22-year-old born in Japan and now based in the US, added to her trophies from the 2018 US Open—earned with a brilliant performance in a memorably chaotic final against Serena Williams—and the 2019 Australian Open.

(More tennis stories.)

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