Naomi Osaka served up a storm all fortnight long to win the US Open

by: | September 08, 2018

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WATCH—Drama unfolds between Serena and Carlos Ramos:

Naomi Osaka’s victory at the 2018 US Open—which made her the first Japanese player ever, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title—was historic. But she didn’t just play lights out in her 6-2 6-4 win over Serena Williams in the final on Saturday, she played lights out throughout the tournament.

One of her biggest weapons during the fortnight: her serve.

Not only did Osaka hold 54 of her 59 service games in the tournament, but she actually went on two incredible service hold streaks—she held 23 straight times between her first round win over Laura Siegemund and her fourth round match against Aryna Sabalenka, and then another 24 straight times between later in that fourth round match and getting broken by Williams early in the second set.

She also hit almost four times as many aces as double faults during the fortnight (33 to 9) and those numbers most certainly held up in the final (she hit 6 aces to 1 double fault against Serena).

Osaka was also incredibly solid all tournament long on break points.

She saved 29 of the 34 break points she faced during her seven matches this tournament, including a rock solid 21 of 22 during her last three rounds (the 20-year-old saved all three break points she faced against Lesia Tsurenko in the quarterfinals, all 13 break points she faced against Madison Keys in the semifinals and five of the six break points she faced against Williams in the final). At one point between the quarterfinals and the final she saved 21 break points in a row.

After her semifinal win over Keys, Osaka was asked about fighting off so many break points.

“I just start thinking about the things that I can control,” Osaka said. “If I hit a good serve, she hits a winner off of it, there’s nothing I can do… so I just think about taking every point one ball at a time, and see what I can do to help myself in the situation.”

At the end of the day, it was an historic day for Osaka, and Japan.

As mentioned, Osaka’s the first Japanese player ever to win a Grand Slam title. Before her the only Japanese player to reach a Grand Slam final was Kei Nishikori on the men’s side (he reached the 2014 US Open final, falling to Marin Cilic).

Osaka will also break into the Top 10 for the first time on Monday, soaring from her current ranking of No.19 to No.7, just the fourth Japanese player, male or female, ever to break the Top 10 (after Kimiko Date, Ai Sugiyama and Nishikori.)

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