Naomi Osaka Overcomes Fast-Starting Azarenka To Win US Open - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Overcomes Fast-Starting Azarenka To Win US Open

After dropping eight out of the first nine games of the final, Osaka battled back to clinch her third major title at the age of 22.

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Naomi Osaka has become the most decorated Asian singles player in Grand Slam history after fighting back from a set and a break down to defeat Victoria Azarenka en route to winning the US Open.  

 


The fourth seed was hammered with a first-set thrashing before fighting her way back to prevail 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, and record her third consecutive Tour win over the Belarusian. The roller-coaster encounter was very much a tale of two halves with Azarenka being the dominant force early on before Osaka found a way to halt and then topple her opponent in a thriller. Doing so with the help of 30 winners to 22 unforced errors and breaking Azarenka five times in total.

I want to congratulate Vika. I actually don’t want to play you in anymore finals. I didn’t really enjoy that,” Osaka said afterwards.
“It’s so inspiring because I used to watch you play here when I was younger. I learned a lot.”
“I want to thank my team for sticking with me. I know the beginning of the year was not great.”

The Saturday night showdown was a repeat of the Western and Southern Open final that never happened two weeks ago after Osaka was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury. This time round both players were fit with Azarenka staging an almost flawless start to the match. It was evident that her game plan was to move Osaka around the court as much as possible to minimise the intensity of her shot-making. Dictating play from the onset, Azarenka raced to a 5-1 lead in just over 20 minutes thanks to some blistering shot-making to fluster Osaka. Breaking her rival three times in total, the former world No.1 clinched the opener with the help of a winning backhand to complete her dream start to the final. During the first set Azarenka dropped just four points behind her serve and produced just three unforced errors.

Osaka, who had only dropped two sets in the entire tournament until today, showed little emotion on the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Facing the prospect of a beat down after getting broken once again at the start of the second set, the fourth seed finally managed to get some momentum in the match. Benefiting from some loose hits from across the court, the Japanese No.1 retrieved the break in a game that revived her title hopes.

“I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose in under an hour.”
She said.

The tides continued to turn in favour of Osaka following another error-stricken Azarenka service game that elevated her to a 4-3 lead and put her ahead in the set for the first time. She completed the turnaround with the help of back-to-back forehand winners to draw level in the match and force proceedings into a decider.

source – wtatennis.com

With the trophy and a payment of $3 million at stake for the winner, Osaka continued to have a firm hold on the match. She was playing a different Azarenka compared to the start as she continued to make mistakes on shots she wasn’t missing at one point. Enabling a fired up Osaka to nudge ahead 3-1 and close in on victory. Continuing to come up with answers to all the questions that were asked of her. It would be a misfired Azarenka forehand that would reward her two championship points. After failing in her first attempt, she clinched the title with the help of a shot from her rival crashing into the net.

“I always see everyone collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely,”
Osaka said after lying on the court following the match.

Meanwhile, Azarenka exits New York thinking about what might have happened if she didn’t drop serve in the third game of the second set. This week was the first time she had played a Grand Slam final since 2013. Despite the loss, she will re-enter the worlds top 15 next week for the first time since January 2017.

I thought third time was the charm but I guess I’ll have to try again. Congratulations to Naomi and her team.” said Azarenka.
“I want to thank my team for sticking with me and believing in me. We’re going to have more fun the next few weeks. It was a long journey to get here, but this was fun. Thank you so much.”

The victory rewards Osaka her third major singles trophy which makes her the first Asian player – male or female – to have ever achieved that. She has also become only the fourth female player to have won a US Open title after coming back from a set down in the Open Era and first since 2001.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Ladies’ Semifinals

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Ons Jabeur during her quarterfinal victory on Tuesday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Thursday’s ladies’ singles semifinals are full of inspiring storylines, featuring the 2019 champion alongside three debutantes at this stage of a Major.  Simona Halep is on a 12-match win streak at The Championships, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina had previously only reached the quarterfinals at a Slam, and have made history by becoming the first players from their countries to reach a Slam semifinal.  And remarkably, 34-year-old mother-of-two Tatjana Maria had never been beyond the third round at a Major, and was on a nine-match losing streak at Slams prior to this fortnight. 

 

Also on Thursday, the gentlemen’s doubles semifinals will be played, as well as the mixed doubles championship match.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:30pm on Centre Court

These are two good friends who describe each other as frequent barbecue buddies.  They also possess two of the sport’s most eclectic styles, with plenty of slices mixed with surges of power.  But in this matchup, Jabeur is clearly the favorite.  Ons has become the No.2 player in the world, with an outstanding record of 35-9 this season.  She was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, and is an undefeated 10-0 on grass in 2022, and 20-2 on this surface since last year.

Maria missed the first six months of the 2021 season due to giving birth to her second child.  She came into this year ranked 284th in the world, yet she’s accumulated 36 match wins at all levels.  As a qualifier, she won a WTA title on clay this past April in Bogota.  And despite her lack of results at Majors, with a career record of 12-34 in main draws, Tatjana has fought her way into her first Slam semifinal, with four three-set victories.  In three of those matches, she came back from a set down.  And she also won three of them by a third-set score of 7-5, even saving two match points against Jelena Ostapenko.

They’ve only played once at tour-level, with Maria prevailing in straight sets five years ago in Linz.  But in 2022, Jabeur is the far more accomplished player, especially at Majors.  And her all-court skills outmatch those of Tatjana.  As long as Ons does not succumb to the pressure of being a strong favorite in her first Slam semifinal, Jabeur should comfortably advance to Saturday’s championship match.


Simona Halep (16) vs. Elena Rybakina (17) – Second on Centre Court

Halep has been on a tear in her last few matches.  On Monday, she allowed fourth-seeded Paula Badosa only three games.  On Wednesday, Amanda Anisimova was only able to win six.  However, both of those opponents already had previous poor results against Simona, as their games do not match up well with that of the two-time Major champion.  The same cannot be said for Rybakina.

While Halep leads their head-to-head 2-1, their last two encounters have been extremely right.  Two years ago in Dubai, Simona required a third-set tiebreak to survive.  And at last year’s US Open, she prevailed 6-3 in the third.  The big difference between the set Rybakina won in New York, and the two sets she lost, was her winner-to-error ratio.  In the set she won, those numbers were equal.  In the sets she lost, she struck nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners.

While reducing her error count will be key for Rybakina, so will continuing to serve well.  In her last two rounds alone, Elena as struck 21 aces and only one double fault.  Rybakina leads the WTA ace count this season, though Halep remains of the sport’s best returners.  And Simona’s serve has improved significantly over the last few seasons.

Experience may be the key factor on Thursday, which is obviously a huge advantage for Halep.  This is her ninth Major semifinal, and her third at Wimbledon, while this Rybakina’s first at any Slam.  Also Centre Court itself will be new territory for Elena, who has never played on this court in her career.  And based on Halep’s current form, the 2019 champion should be favored to return to the final.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk (2) vs. Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur – Skupski and Krawczyk are the defending champions, while Ebden and Stosur were finalists at last year’s Australian Open.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (1) vs. Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell (14) – Ram and Salisbury and two-time Major champions as a team.  Ebden and Purcell were finalists at this year’s Australian Open.  That’s the event where these teams last met, with the Australians prevailing in the semifinals.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (6) – Mektic and Pavic are the defending champions, while Cabal and Farah won this event in 2019.  Cabal Farah are 2-0 against Mektic and Pavic this season.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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The Wimbledon Naughty List: Which Players Have Been Fined And What For?

Ubitennis takes a look at who has been hit with a penalty and more importantly why.

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Nick Kyrgios might be the player everybody’s talking about due to his behavior but few realize that he is one of 19 to be hit with a financial penalty during the first week of Wimbledon.

In fact, more than $75,000 worth of fines has already been issued during the first week of the championships. According to official data, more than three times as many men have committed an offense than women. Although interestingly it is only two female players who have been punished for receiving coaching and nobody in the men’s draw.

Australia’s Kyrgios leads the leaderboard for the biggest fine after what has been a controversial past few days. In his first round match, he argued with the umpire and spat in front of some people in the crowd who he said were ‘disrespecting him.’ Resulting in him being hit with a $10,000 penalty. He later said during his press conference that he was tired of being verbally abused by some fans watching him play.

 

Then on Saturday in a dramatic clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas he argued once again with officials, got a warning for swearing and at one stage called for his opponent to be defaulted for hitting a ball into the stands. 

“Why would I need to apologize? I’m getting fined for it. Because I got — I always get fined. I’m very keen to see what he will get after today.” Kyrgios said following his third round win. 

Kyrgios has been fined another $4000 for his antics and Tsitsipas has to pay $10,000 for his behavior. The relationship between the two took another dramatic turn after the match when the Greek accused his peer of bullying during an explosive press conference

After Kyrgios, America’s Reilly Opelka was docked $5000 for swearing. The value of the fine is an interesting one when three other players have also been fined for the same offense but they only have to pay $3000. The difference could be due to repeated swearing during the match.

The majority of the men’s fInes are for either unsportsmanlike conduct or audible obscenities. The only exception is Benoit Paire who was fined $2500 for equipment abuse.

As for the ladies’ draw, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko received the biggest fine ($4500) for coaching. Former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza was another player to be published for her actions.

Here is a breakdown of the fines issued between Day 1 and Day 6 of the championships. 

WOMEN

  • Daria Saville AUS (round one) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Lesia Tsurenko UKR (round two) $4500 – COACHING
  • Garbine Mugurza ESP (round 2) $3500 – COACHING
  • Harriet Dart GBR (round 2) $4000 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE

MEN

  • Fernando verdasco ESP (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Adrian Mannarino FRA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Stan Wawrinka SWI (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Yoshihito Nishioka JPA (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios AUS (round one) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Pedro Martinez ESP (round one) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Diego Schwartzman ARG (round one) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Lukas Klein SVK (round one) $3000 –  UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Reilly Opelka USA (round two) $5000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Benoit Paire (round one) $2500 – EQUIPMENT ABUSE
  • Jiri Vesely CZE (round two) $3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina ESP (round two) $3000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Denis Shapovalov CAN (round 2) £3000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
  • Nick Kyrgios (round 3) $4000 – AUDIBLE OBSCENITY
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (round 3) $10,000 – UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT

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