Australian Open 2021: Naomi Osaka is the proper athlete to encourage the following technology of stars
Naomi Osaka has 4 Grand Slam titles, and stays unbeaten in main finals after lifting the 2021 Australian Open. However extra remarkably, every of her Slam has been important to her as a participant and an individual.
It was simply after Naomi Osaka had gained her semi-final on the recently-concluded Australian Open that Justine Henin, one of many specialists on Eurosport for the season-opening Grand Slam, proclaimed that girls’s tennis had discovered its new boss. It may need appeared untimely, contemplating the ultimate was nonetheless to be performed. However the seven-time Grand Slam champion was steadfast in her perception. “To me, girls’s tennis has a brand new boss. Naomi Osaka has this capability, she has taken one other dimension,” mentioned Henin.
As if to validate the previous Belgian tennis star’s conviction, Osaka gained her fourth Slam title at Melbourne Park on Saturday.
For lengthy, girls’s tennis has yearned for a champion to take the tour by the scruff of its neck, to not be a one-off success or somebody who might win greater than three titles. Serena Williams, who Osaka beat within the semi-finals, had made successful Slams a behavior and it gave an impression that it was straightforward. Not even within the slightest.
However what makes Osaka’s feat this 12 months much more exceptional is that by taking her tally to 4, she’s highlighted her psychological fortitude coupled with unbelievable progress in her tennis. She’s come by from being two match factors down, going through a stiff draw, a semi-final in opposition to her idol, and a last in opposition to arguably the second finest girls’s participant on arduous courts presently.
Every of her 4 Slam titles — US Open 2018, Australian Open 2019, US Open 2020, Australian Open 2021 — have meant one thing. They’ve represented one thing in her journey and her standing as a tennis participant.
The 2018 US Open, her first main, was her breakthrough. The truth that it got here in opposition to Serena within the last, in a controversial match the place the American referred to as the chair umpire “a thief”, simply took up the feat a notch. She turned the primary Japanese participant to win a Grand Slam and the youngest US Open champion since 2006.
The problem with girls’s tennis previously decade had been in gamers not taking their success ahead. Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Ashleigh Barty, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek are all one-time champions. The problem forward of them is to show that it isn’t a one-off title. Osaka, coming into the 2019 Australian Open, had the identical job.
Not solely did Naomi win the Australian Open, however very similar to this 12 months, she got here by some robust matches. She wanted a trio of three-set matches earlier than enjoying a nail-biter in opposition to Petra Kvitova within the last. She thus turned the youngest lady to win back-to-back majors since Martina Hingis in 1998.
In 2020, the world of tennis was a distinct place. The coronavirus pandemic hampered the season after February; and off the courtroom, the dialog turned political within the US as police brutality got here to the fore. Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage however a US resident since 2006, gained reward for her assist for the Black Lives Matter motion. She wore a distinct masks in every spherical to honour victims of racial inequality and police brutality.
She got here from 1-6, 0-2 down within the last in opposition to Victoria Azarenka to win inside an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 23-year-old deliberate on highlighting seven totally different names on the event, and she or he did what she aspired to do.
“Actually, for me, when all the things occurred in New York, I bought actually scared as a result of I felt prefer it put me into this mild that was a non-athletic mild that I’ve by no means been in earlier than,” she mentioned after beating Jennifer Brady within the Australian Open last.
“So I really feel like there’s lots of subjects that individuals instantly began asking me about that I utterly did not find out about in any respect. For me, I solely like to speak after I’m educated in regards to the topic or at the very least know, like, one tiny grain of what I am about to begin speaking about,” she added.
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) February 12, 2021
At Melbourne Park, beneath strict COVID-19 restrictions, followers made a return. Gamers flew in from throughout and fought it out with their very own quarantine restrictions as effectively. Osaka, in the meantime, took her unbeaten tally to 21 matches, served probably the most aces among the many girls and returned remarkably effectively — a side she claimed was her objective.
“So for me I got here into this event simply pondering purely about tennis.”
And by going 4-0 in Grand Slam finals, remaining flawless within the second week of majors, popping out victorious in a tricky draw, simply speaks volumes of what she is able to doing and what number of she will encourage. Requested what’s subsequent for her, what does she wish to obtain that she hasn’t already and Osaka had a stunning reply.
“I really feel like the most important factor that I wish to obtain is — that is going to sound actually odd — hopefully I play lengthy sufficient to play a lady that mentioned that I used to be as soon as her favorite participant or one thing. For me, I believe that is the best factor that would ever occur to me. I believe I’ve these emotions of, , watching my favorite gamers. Sadly I did not get to play Li Na, however, yeah, I simply assume that that is how the game strikes ahead.”
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