Azarenka was uneducated but barely an outsider. She was No. 1 for 51 weeks in 2012 and 2013 and Williams won two Australian Open singles titles before reassuring herself at the top of the women’s game, and Azarenka came back.
She suffered injuries, a painful breakup with boyfriend and coach, and, most traumatically, a long and bitter custody dispute over her now 3-year-old son, Leo, who lived in a private home with Azarenka and her mother and team that she rented. USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the tournament.
She became the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Kim Clijsters won the Australian Open in 2011. As Azarenka dominated the opening set, controlling the rallies and rallies in almost every first play, it felt as if she would win one. Osaka throws his racket at a stage in frustration as his unexpected errors pile up.
Osaka said, “I felt it would be too embarrassing to lose it in under an hour.”
His mood and game improved dramatically as he advanced to the finals, while Azarenka failed to maintain his level of play. After losing the second set and trailing 1–4 in the third, Azarenka made another bounce to counter through a five-deuce game and then broke Osaka’s serve in the next game to make a 3-4 difference. Closed.
But at 30-30 in Azarenka’s serve in the next game, the match went well as Osaka won a high-velocity rally to gain a break point and then converted it as Azarenka fielded a forehand, an inside-out. Went for winner and missed just wide.
Osaka, who have yet to face defeat in a major final, then closed out the win by serving as Azarenka’s final shot, a backhand hit the net. Osaka tapped the racket with Azarenka at the net – another sign of these changed times – and then lay on his back in court and took a moment to capitalize on the moment.