Azarenka delivers his most-needed catch yet, cracking a pair of aces and an 82mph second-serve serve winner.
Osaka holds on to love-15, pounding a pair of 109mph aces along the way to strengthen the brakes for 2-all. Osaka is serving an average of 12 meters per hour faster than Azarenka to-day, but is getting only 70% of its first service (compared to 90% for Vika).
Second set: * Osaka 1-6, 1-2 Azarenka
Osaka trailed 40-30 in Azarenka’s serve, hitting three winners in the first game. But Osaka gets to deuce with a forehand winner, then rips a forehand that Azarenka can’t handle for the first break point of the match. And she replaces it with an assist from Azarenka’s fourth unexpected error of this set – after making just three in the entire opener.
Second set: Osaka 1-6, 0-2 Azarenka *
Osaka’s bad day at the office is averted for the bad times when she falls behind Pyaar-15, then 15-40 in her service, handing Azarenka two points for a break for 2-Pyaar. Osaka made the first save of the afternoon with the first ace, down 93mph in the middle. But Azarenka converts at the following point with a backhand winner and is in front in the second set.
Azarenka wins the first set, 6–1!
First set: Osaka 1-6 Azarenka
Osaka has no errors in their serve, Osaka chips in at number 13 and suddenly Azarenka has three points from the set. Osaka reacts with the backhand winner and the 93m service winner, only for Azarenka to push for his removal. From there Azarenka closed the set, breaking Osaka for the third time in 26 minutes with a backhand winner.
Osaka continued to pull away the opener, mixing his 10th and 11th unforced errors as Azarenka came out 40-15 in the race. Osaka pushed to remove it with an Azarenka error followed by a forehand volley winner to settle the 10-shot rally. But Azarenka readily prepares to break the hold from there and Osaka will serve to stay in the first set.
First set: Osaka 1-4 Azarenka *
Azareka made it to 30 in Osaka’s serve after Osaka’s eighth unexpected error (against two winners). Osaka then mixes in the second double fault of the day for a break point … and Azarenka converts it when Osaka pushes the forehand into the baseline rally much earlier. Vika takes a double break after only 17 minutes. Below Osaka’s standard we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in this tournament (or any of its last two Grand Slam finals).
Azarenka stays out after coming in front for another easy catch. He won eight of nine points in his service.
Osaka made his sixth unexpected lead at the baseline forehand for a 15-all but rutted to the next three points to close the hold and get on the board.
Azarenka breaks up with a relaxed love grip. A promising start to her first big final in seven years.
First set: Osaka 0-1 Azarenka *
A scratch service game to start for Osaka, which opens at the end of the 12-stroke baseline rally with an unexpected error from his forehand. She goes down 15-40 only to a baseline winner at the next point, with Azarenka handing a pair of early break-points. She saves the first of them, but gifts Azarenka a break with a forehand misfire on the second.
tale of the tape
Here’s how today’s finalists compare. By winning their most recent meet at last year’s French Open, Osaka took a 2–1 lead over the all-time chief. They were scheduled to meet for the fourth time in last week’s Western and Southern Open finals, but Osaka bounced back due to an injured left hamstring.