It had been seven years and six days since Victoria Azarenka was in a Grand Slam final. Her opponent for her third final in Flushing Meadows was Naomi Osaka who had been playing phenomenal tennis throughout the restart as had Vika.
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see nerves at the beginning from the Belarusian but it was jaw dropping tennis in the opening half an hour from the former world number one.
I could not be happier to see Vika produce this level of tennis but the opening set was something else. Azarenka had Naomi Osaka on the run and the forehand was painting a picture out on Arthur Ashe and it was a picture of dominance.
Not only did she move Osaka around with ease but the aggressive style her tennis and her winners were mind-blowing. Towards the end of the set I did think Naomi found her backhand a bit better but she was overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of Victoria Azarenka.
If anything after a dominating 6-1 set the slate needed to be wiped for both players but despite a bit of pressure Vika went ahead 2-0 but was quickly pegged back giving Osaka a lifeline!
The last time a women’s US Open champion came back from a set down to win was Aranxcha Sanchez Vicario in 1994 and she lost the set 1-6…
A game sealed with an ace and the 2018 champion was back level at 2-2 when she could have been 0-3 down.
After squandering that opportunity to go up a second break the Belarusian did re-group very well and found that time she wanted behind the forehand to extend her lead on serve. A big turn in momentum as a slip on serve from Vika who was broken to 15 and Naomi Osaka found herself 4-3 up in a second set which looked like getting away from her early on.
A completely different Naomi Osaka from the first 27 minutes of the match left Azarenka serving at 3-5 to stay in the set.
A loose game from Vika who was struggling to find the line with the forehand setting up the Osaka backhand and found herself break point down not once but twice and Osaka somehow turned it around to take the second 6-3 after a 10 minute service game from Azarenka.
Naomi’s incredible rhythm continued as she held pretty perfectly lead to 1-0 in the third and ahead for the first time in the match. That was followed by a very vocal hold of serve from Vika to level up and stop the small rot!
A big backhand down the line from Naomi Osaka sealed another big game for the 2018 champion who went up a break of serve in the decider. Surprisingly a bit of a slip up from Naomi Osaka falling 0-40 down on serve following a string of errors but picked off five points a row to extend her lead to 4-1.
It looked like going from bad to worse for Azarenka down another four break points but she hung on in there after over 8 minutes to keep it at one break!
Just when we thought we were edging close a conclusion a wildcard service game from 40-15 up and Osaka was broken for 3-4 and at the change over Vika didn’t sit down and stayed on her feet.
Despite a fightback from 1-4 down, Azarenka’s forehand let her down at a crucial time and a chance came for Naomi Osaka to serve for the title.
An incredible final by two incredible women.
Well done to Victoria Azarenka on a wonderful few weeks and to Naomi Osaka winning her third Grand Slam title!
1-6 6-3 6-3