Flushing Meadows, New York, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Naomi Osaka battled back here Saturday to defeat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the US Open women’s singles title for a second time.
It was also the third Grand Slam triumph for Osaka, who becomes the first woman to win three majors before the age of 23 since Maria Sharapova achieved that feat in 2008.
Osaka, born 22 years ago to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, likewise joined Virginia Wade, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati in the exclusive club of women players who won their first three Grand Slam finals.
Her 31-year-old opponent from Belarus, meanwhile, is now an unenviable 0-for-3 in US Open finals.
But Azarenka, a former world No. 1 who barely played for two years due to motherhood and a custody battle for her young son, could take some satisfaction from her impressive first set against Osaka.
The two women were set to face each other last month in the final of the Western & Southern Open, but Osaka withdrew due to injury, allowing Azarenka to post her first tournament victory in four years.
Azarenka was dominant in the opening set Saturday in Arthur Ashe Stadium, serving at 94 percent and making only three unforced errors to 13 for Osaka.
It took Azarenka just 26 minutes to prevail 6-1 and the second set looked likely to go the same way until Osaka, down 2-0, broke her opponent’s serve.
Osaka hit 16 winners on the way to taking the second set 6-3 and jumped out to a 3-1 edge in the third. But Azarenka saved four break points to stay alive and improve to 3-4.
The respite was only temporary, however, and it would be Osaka who hoisted the trophy.
When asked afterward about the comeback, Osaka gave a characteristically blunt response.
“For me, I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in under an hour, so I just have to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude,” she said.
And while Azarenka expressed the hope that the two women would meet again in another final, Osaka demurred.
“I want to congratulate Vika. I actually don’t want to play you in more finals. I didn’t really enjoy that. It was a really tough match for me, and it’s real inspiring for me because I used to watch you play here when I was younger, so just to have the opportunity to play you is really great, and I learned a lot,” the champion said.