Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to ever claim a Grand Slam title on Saturday as she defeat Serena Williams, denying the American a 24th major title. The 20-year-old has elevated herself to the status of a global star thanks to her success.
After such a dramatic success, here are how tennis writers saw the match:
“It began, really, two nights before, when she beat Madison Keys in the semifinals and immediately embraced the chance to play Serena in the final,” Tennis.com’s Steve Tignor pointed out. “There was awe in her voice, but no fear, no hesitation, no nerves. She wanted this moment, and she played like it.”
Bryan Armen Graham, writing in the Guardian, had few doubts about Osaka’s ability to win: “The only question was whether a 20-year-old in her first grand-slam final could hold her nerve. It wasn’t long before it was obvious she could.”
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“In almost every statistical category, Osaka had the edge,” said Louisa Thomas, writing in the New Yorker.
In the New York Times, Christopher Clarey described Osaka’s performance as “one of the finest matches ever played by a youngster in her position”.
“Time and again, Williams tried to crank up the volume and the intensity. Time and again, Osaka held firm, trumped Williams at her own power game, and did not panic,” he added.
And Howard Fendrich, writing for AP, believes there’s more to come: “There’s no reason to think Osaka won’t have more in store. She is at the forefront of the next generation in women’s tennis, someone possessing quite a mixture of powerful serve and strokes, enviable court speed and a preternatural calm.”
The president of Japan, Abe Shinzo, even chimed in via Twitter, praising the WTA World No.7 for her performance, which has come in the wake of natural disasters hitting the country: “Congratulations to Naomi, the winner of the U.S. Open. Japan’s first champion in the four major competitions. Thank you for your energy and excitement during this difficult time for Japan.”