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Home / Sports / Naomi Osaka was in danger, transformed into a robot and held it down

Naomi Osaka was in danger, transformed into a robot and held it down



Photo: Cameron Spencer (Getty)

For Naomi Osaka it could have been settled so quickly. Osaka had three chances to win their first Australian Open, 5-3 and 1

-0 to Petra Kvitova. None of them took them there. First, Kvitova ripped open the court with its most violent ground strikes and let a winner fly so that her opponent had to rattle. Then Osaka sent a long hand. Then Osaka sent a long backhand. All three points passed her. Two chances to play the game did not work either.

From this first match point to the end of this second set, the 21-year-old lost 18 of 22 points. A deadlock like this with the trophy nearby is painful, and Naomi, as animated as ever on the court, could not hide the fight. During this time, Osaka screamed for errors, pulled her visor over her eyes, cried and slipped off the court at the end of the second set under the towel veil. She had to put her head in the right position before the decisive sentence started.

Screenshot: ESPN

Considering the Kvitova skill level, Osaka had no time for another focus at this time. She had just been topped for most of the first set, though Kvitova simply could not take a break, even though she had dug deep into Osaka's service games, and instead had to opt for a tiebreak. There, the Japanese star played a flawless sequence with only two points. It was the first set in which Kvitova made all the tournaments. They managed to break the serve in the second set and then Naomi broke again before the collapse of the four games and the departure of the towels were recorded. 19659006 feelings of regret – and, frankly, feelings at all. "I just felt hollow, like I was a robot," she said after the match about her mentality in the third sentence. "I have just completed my orders. I dont know. "

Gone were all charming self-reminders: no leg bruises, no fist pumps, no chirps. The negative body language was gone. In its place was a dead, almost silent execution. She broke in the third game and held on from there to win the Australian Open (7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4).

To speak her word, Osaka achieved this robot calm with some perspective and humility. "I just thought this was the second time I played a final," she said. "I can not really act legitimately. To play against one of the best players in the world to lose a set, I suddenly think that I am so much better than them, that this is not a possibility. "The fascinating thing about this match was the juxtaposition of Two Women in different stages of their tennis: a 28-year-old double winner who comes back to the top of the sport after a knife attack, and a 21-year-old who still gets up and something else Has room to grow.

Kvitova can muster comparable raw power with Osaka, but has more craftsmanship. When serving, she can count on a few awkward, left-handed discs, a flawless placement, and a second delivery that flies almost as fast as the first. From the baseline, she can improvise and play with the expectations of her enemy:

Such a dropoff is valuable to any player who chooses to join the club Hit hits baseline like these two. If the norm punishes power, a small deviation is all the more effective; A soft, flat ball is never more lethal than when the opponent takes care of a deep, fast ball. Osaka, perhaps inspired by the veteran's skilful success, tried a lot in this match, a funky forehand chop and a brutal two-handed backhand version, each with surprisingly poor results. It will get better with all this. A better second serve helps to ward off courageous returnees. Improved network play allows them to benefit faster from their massive ground beats; She hardly saw the front of the court in this game and lost all three points there. There is still a lot to learn.

But do not confuse it: At the moment, Osaka's play is unfettered, and no woman alive can perform that vision better than she does now. She does not have to worry about all the finer tricks as long as her hammer hacks everything well. New nuances will make her even more frightening on the road, but what she has now is obviously good enough for two big titles and the # 1 in the world. It's also amazing to watch.

The cold-blooded return:

The hypnotic backhand sequence:

Behind such shots, Osaka became the first woman in 18 years to make her first Grand Slam at the next Grand Slam supported. Her hard court dominance has started so fast that she has completed only 43 games on clay and 29 games on grass throughout her career, and only one hair is over, 500 at each. She even said that she finds the slides and slides on these surfaces "a bit scary". There is much more to be mastered – which, all in all, is an enviable position to be number one in the world. If and when she finds out, more of these glittering trophies will be lying in wait, and if we are lucky, accompanied another perfect speech.


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