Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka made it into the U.S. Open Finals for the second time in her career. She defeated Jennifer Brady yesterday with a thrilling 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3. Reportedly, it may have been the best women’s match of this tournament. For the first time, Brady reached the semi-finals without dropping a single set in New York. Nevertheless, Osaka will now be facing Victoria Azarenka in the finals on Saturday.
Naomi Osaka ‘s mask
Naomi Osaka was seen walking into the court with a mask on. Allegedly, the mask had Philando Castile’s name on it. He was a 32-year-old black man who was shot dead by a police officer back in 2016. In virtue of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Osaka wore the mask to support the same. She played for a cause. Playing for something bigger than herself boosted her confidence and gave her a clearer mindset. This led her to perform marvelously in the first set. She admitted that she had 7 such masks and wanted to keep winning so that she could wear them all to each opening.
The semi-final match took place under the Arthur Ashe roof in New York. As per the weather forecast, a storm was expected. Likewise, it rained heavily as the two players took to the court.
Osaka set the tone pretty early in the match. She soon learned that she had to fight a battle, as a calm and composed Brady came out swinging. However, she turned aside a breakpoint while serving at 3-3 in the first stanza. Later, she held out at love to get ahead 5-4, then ran away in the tie-break. Nonetheless, this did not shake Brady. At 15-40, she hit a backhand called long. However, she did not challenge even after she was signaled to. In the replay, it was clearly visible that her shot was in, but it was too late. It was an ill-timed oversight, and Osaka took it. From there, Osaka built an early break to lead 4-1 and sealed the game. After this outstanding Victory, Osaka will now be heading to Flushing Meadows to play the finals against Azarenka.
Naomi and New York
After the match, Naomi Osaka expressed her love for New York and called the city her second home. In the on-court TV interview, she said,
I really love the atmosphere, even though sadly there are no people here. I really feel like this court really suits me well.
After being asked about the third set, she mentioned that it felt like they were trading serves. She continued,
I tried to adjust a little bit on her serve in the third set, so maybe that helped. I had flashbacks of playing [Petra] Kvitová in Australia [2019 Final], so maybe that experience helped me out today.