Naomi Osaka makes history with US Open win

First Japanese Grand Slam singles champion beat Serena Williams in controversial final.

By ZK Goh

Naomi Osaka has become the first Japanese tennis player, male or female, to win a singles title at a Grand Slam.

The 20-year-old triumphed after a controversial 6–2, 6–4 win over Serena Williams at the US Open.

There were unsavoury scenes during the victory ceremony following the final, but that should not overshadow Osaka's historic achievement.

She's managed to do what none of her compatriots — including Kimiko Date, Ai Sugiyama, or former men's world number four Kei Nishikori — have before.

Nishikori had come the closest, losing the men's singles final to Marin Cilic at Flushing Meadows in 2014.

Serena Williams looks on as Naomi Osaka lifts the trophy after winning the 2018 US Open Final at Flushing Meadows

History maker

It's been a six-year journey to the top for the world number 19 Osaka, who will move inside the top ten for the first time following this victory.

Born in Osaka, Japan, she could also have represented Haiti, the land of her father, or the United States, where she grew up.

She made her professional debut in 2012 aged just 14, working her way up to reach the world top 100 four years later.

And, earlier this year, Osaka proved she could compete with the best, winning her maiden WTA title at Indian Wells. She also defeated Williams in the latter's comeback tournament at Miami.

Grand Slam aspirations

This was the first time Osaka had made it past the last 16 at one of the four majors.

She only dropped one set all tournament in New York, setting up a re-match against her childhood idol in the final.

The match was overshadowed by a dispute between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who handed the 36-year-old three code violations.

Ramos called Williams for receiving coaching during play, and gave her a point penalty for smashing a racket.

Osaka was 6–2, 4–3 up and on her way towards victory when Serena received a game penalty for verbal abuse after calling Ramos a "thief".

That left a disgruntled crowd, who whistled and jeered during the trophy presentation, leaving Osaka in tears.

Williams tried to console the new champion, hugging her before asking spectators to "be positive" and stop booing.

The journey continues

Next up for the new world number seven is a visit to her native Japan for the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo later this month.

She makes the journey as the first Japanese woman in the top 10 since Ai Sugiyama in 2004.

Her new dream, now that she's a Grand Slam champ? "Hopefully to win the tournament there," she joked.

The Japanese fans will hope she does. And with Tokyo hosting the Olympic Games tournament in under two years' time, they'll be hopeful of more success in 2020 too.


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