US Open: It didn't feel real, says Naomi Osaka after beating Serena Williams in final

Sep 10, 2018, 09:30 IST | AFP

Osaka beats idol Serena to become first Japanese to win a Grand Slam; reveals disappointment over ruining American's record-equalling 24th title bid

US Open: It didn't feel real, says Naomi Osaka after beating Serena Williams in final
Japan's Naomi Osaka kisses the US Open trophy after her win over American Serena Williams in the final at New York on Saturday. Pic/AFP

The killer instinct that carried Japan's Naomi Osaka to a first Grand Slam title evaporated as she hugged her idol Serena Williams after beating her in a controversial US Open final. Osaka said it wasn't the ire of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd – angered at penalties meted out to Williams – but just the realisation that she'd robbed the US great who inspired her career of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

"I know that she really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam," said Osaka, who choked up again herself trying to explain her feelings. "When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I'm not a Serena fan. I'm just a tennis player playing another tennis player. "But then when I hugged her at the net I felt like a little kid again."

Undaunted by the massive pro-Williams crowd, she broke Williams twice for a quick 4-1 lead in the opening set, displaying the kind of powerful ground game and dominant serve that have made Williams herself a star.

She had locked up the first in style with a blistering service winner when Williams was incensed by a code violation warning for receiving coaching from her box in the second game of the second set. Although Williams would take a 3-1 lead in the set, the accusation festered, and soon a violation for racquet abuse cost her a point while a third for verbal abuse cost her a game.

"I didn't know what was going on, I was just trying to focus. Since it was my first Grand Slam final, I did not want to get overwhelmed," Osaka said. "Serena came to the bench and told me she had a point penalty and when she got the game penalty I didn't know that either. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time," Osaka said. "To have a huge reaction isn't really me in the first place," she said. "It just still didn't really feel that real."

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