Naomi Osaka found the heroine’s coat. She won in Bond. When there was no help, it showed the best Tennis


She is the top-earning sports woman. Since 2018, he has won a Grand Slam title every season, which is impressive by interregnum standards in women’s tennis. And at the same Naomi Osaka she remains completely unstarred. Sometimes it is not known what is more valuable to her: tennis power when she turns on the highest speed, like in the second and third sets of the final? Is honesty for better or worse and the gift of seeing that the world does not end at the tip of the nose.

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Sponsors love her: game for Japan, but she was brought up by the United States and she was taught tennis by her father from Caribbean, Haiti. In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle, such a mix is ​​converted into millions from advertising contracts. In 2019, it converted into a total of USD 37.5 million. But there is no feeling that sponsors bought it, and the popularity has spoiled and learned to hide in its cocoon. If Naomi Osaka feels like tennis has overwhelmed her, that she’s burning under pressure, she talks about this doubt in interviews. If she sees that her rival played beautifully, she showers her with compliments, like Iga Świątek once did. And if, after such compliments, he promises to train together, then he keeps his word. If he wins his first Grand Slam title with whistles, as two years ago in New York, when the audience took the side of Serena Williams in a war with a referee, he humbly accepts that it is impossible to win against the crowd at such a moment, you have to give him time. If he feels that “Black Lives Matter” and that he has to express it somehow, and he doesn’t know how, he shows it immediately, not really knowing how. When the unrest started, she protested in the streets of Minneapolis, not just Instagram. Just before the US Open, she first withdrew from the Western & Southern Open, sympathetic to the gesture of the NBA basketball players, but then she was persuaded to come back, then finally withdrew with an injury. At the US Open, she would go out to every match wearing a black mask with the name and surname of some victim of the American police. And after each match, she wore a black and gold Lakers jersey with a Kobe Bryant eight. You could see her in this jersey in the stands during other matches, and in it she also raised the cup for winning the US Open. – I really felt it gave me strength – she wrote after the final.

Osaka: “I thought it would be a shame if I lose this in less than an hour”

She went to the court in big headphones, with a big backpack, in a black mask with a message. After the game, she was wearing a black Kobe T-shirt. And so seven times, from three hundred with Misaki Doi in the first round to three hundred with Wiktoria Azarenka in the final. There was so much history to tell in this year’s US Open: first slam in coronavirus, exclusion Benoit Paire and Kristiny Mladenović, Serena Williams lost again in the race for the Margaret Court record, Azarenka’s comeback, a great tournament of young moms that sometimes eluded, how addictive some of the games were.

In the final, tennis took Victoria Azarence what it gave her in the semi-final against Serena Williams. Back then, I was faced with the well-known tennis dilemma – how to finish the match that I started so well? – constant rival. Now – Azarenka. When there is such skill and stubbornness on both sides of the net, sometimes one perfect hit will shift the match onto another track and switch roles. The final result was the same as in the Williams-Azerenka semi-final, only this time in favor of the opponent: 1: 6, 6: 3, 6: 3 for Osaka. But the course – even more dramatic. Because Azarenka still in the first set against Williams, although she played only one game in it, began to find a good rhythm. And Osaka in the finale found him really at the last moment, when the last door was closing. She lost the first set, lost 0: 2 in the second. For 26 years, since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario’s victory over Steffi Graf, there has not been a female winner in the tournament who could recover after losing the first set. Osaka made double service errors in it, unforced errors in exchanges, hit the net, threw the racket against the court. She chased the ball where Azarenka sent it: once against one line, sometimes against the other, sometimes to a shortcut. “I had to tell myself that I would be ashamed to lose this game in less than an hour and that I had to stop being discouraged,” Osaka said later. And when she regained her confidence, the big game began. There was no resignation from Azarenko, no slow surrender as before with Serena. The Belarusian woman did not acknowledge the loss, she tried to come back. The second set ended 6: 3, but in the last game they played for advantage. Azarenka had the ball at 5: 4, but Osaka responded with such a counter or a return that she finally strangled this attempt to return to dictating events on the court.

Osaka is not yet deciding whether he will come to Roland Garros

In the third set, Azarenka led to a 3: 4 situation from a seemingly hopeless situation. Moments earlier, Osaka accepted with a smile that the challenge at an important moment gave the opponent a point. But after the advantage was reduced to one gem, she realized that here it would be necessary to be tenacious to the end. It worked, it has a third Grand Slam title. As “El Pais” put it, she returned to paradise, and found the heroine’s coat at the perfect moment. After winning the 2019 Australian Open, she was overwhelmed by expectations and pressure. She parted ways with coach Sacha Bajin, was eliminated already in the fourth round of the US Open, and even faster from the Australian Open: after a misguided match with Coco Gauff in the third round. She lost her lead in the ranking, then dropped out of the top three. Now, with the new coach Wim Fissett, and Azarenka’s coach once, she has rebuilt her greatest strengths. She improved her physical preparation, and maybe she missed what had been overwhelming her during the coronavirus break. And he has another Grand Slam. Where it started in 2018 and where she was booed, there was no audience this time. But there was also no doubt that the best one won. And that he represents his sport well. From Monday, he will return to the top three of the ranking. It does not yet prejudge whether he will go to the Roland Garros starting September 21, the flour is not her surface.

After the final, she returned to the court, lay on her back and looked at the sky for several seconds. – I saw how great tennis players fell right after the victory, I wanted to see what they see then. I was just always afraid that they were doing something to each other. I preferred to lie down more carefully, she said. She said “great tennis players”, not “other great tennis players”. And whatever she saw while lying on the court, you’d like to tell her: never change.

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