Serena Steals Spotlight From First Time Slam Winner Osaka
Despite the blistering tennis on display in the men’s final, the attention of the tennis world is still very much on the unfortunate events that took place in the women’s final. Instead of the rightful winner of the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka, getting the praise and attention she truly deserves, it was the actions of Serena Williams that stole the headlines. Williams was handed 3 code violations and therefore docked a game by umpire Carlos Ramos, leaving the US Open once again embroiled in a nasty sexism row.
Williams was handed her first code violation for coaching, as coach Patrick Moritoglou was spotted gesturing for her to move into the net, something which Moritoglou himself admitted to after the match. There were claims that Osaka was also receiving coaching, but no evidence for this has been found. The second code violation was given for racket abuse after Williams destroyed a racket, resulting in a point penalty, before Williams hurled a torrent of abuse at umpire Carlos Ramos, calling him a ‘thief’ and a ‘liar’, as well as screaming at Ramos that he owed her an apology and that he wouldn’t be allowed to umpire her again, saying “You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.” “You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology! Say it! Say you’re sorry!” This left Ramos with no option but to issue a third code violation for verbal abuse of an official, which by the rules of tennis warrants a game penalty.
Ramos therefore followed the rules to the letter, but many are saying that the rules are bent for men, and that male tennis players would not receive a similar code violation. However the only comparable example in men’s tennis is where John McEnroe was himself docked a game in the Swedish Open in 1982 for behaviour that resembled that of Williams. It could be argued that players like Nick Kyrgios get away with violations of the tennis code of conduct, but the Australian is also often penalised for his actions, being given many hefty fines and even a 3 month ban over the course of his career for similar actions.
However Osaka showed amazing professionalism and courage to ignore what was going on around her, and outplayed Serena Williams, game penalty or not, to win the match 6-2 6-4. Williams had no answer for a superior opponent on the day, with Osaka hitting an impressive 6 aces and 16 winners. Another key to her victory was Osaka’s ability to soak up the power of Williams and to not give her any free points. Osaka made only 14 unforced errors compared to William’s 21, and was simply the more solid player on the day. Being only 20 years old as well, Osaka will most certainly have another chance at grand slam glory.
There was equally blistering tennis on display in the men’s final, which was won by Novak Djokovic. He beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 in one of the longest 3 set matches ever, taking 3 hours and 15 minutes to overcome his opponent. Del Potro, looking for his second Grand Slam title, came out swinging, hitting huge forehands and serves. However a consistent level of unbelievable defence proved key for Djokovic, who could seemingly soak up anything del Potro had to throw at him. The key point in the match was the second set tiebreak, where del Potro wasted a 3-1 lead and made a catalogue of unforced errors on his usually watertight forehand to lose the breaker, something which the Argentine never recovered from.
“I don’t want to think about that level again because I feel like I’m on a whole new level,” said Djokovic. “That’s kind of my approach and my thinking. I just want to create from this moment onwards the most that I can create for myself, to get the best out of myself in every possible moment.”
Del Potro also has reason to hold his head high, considering the length of time he spent away from the game before his comeback in 2016. He very nearly retired from tennis, and to make a Grand Slam final again would have been beyond his wildest hopes and dreams. He has no reason to be disappointed or ashamed.